September 22, 2021

How the November 2015 attacks marked a turning point in French terrorism laws.

France’s biggest criminal trial to date opened on September 8, following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people at a bar, restaurant, a football stadium and the Bataclan concert hall in the French capital. The attacks marked a turning point in French anti-terrorism legislation. France 24 focuses on tightening anti-terrorism legislation and debating civil liberties.

France declared a state of emergency on the evening of November 13, 2015. The deadliest terrorist attacks on French soil in modern history have killed 130 people. In the Paris area, the government passed new anti-terrorism laws, giving police and intelligence agencies the power to expand, as the country expands into French cities and towns, such as Nice, Saint-Etienne-du-Roure, Valijouf and Rambolet. There was a wave of attacks.

The state of emergency ended in November 2017, when President Emmanuel. Macron replaced it with a strict anti-terrorism law.. The new law permanently legalizes many aspects of the state of emergency – such as house searches, restrictions on movement, or expanded police powers to close radical religious sites.

France has a long history of anti-terrorism legislation, dating back to the 19th century, when the state adopted extraordinary provisions under wartime regulations. A wave of Iranian-sponsored terrorist attacks in 1986, which killed 14 people and injured about 250 in Paris, led the French government to enact anti-terrorism legislation, which continues to this day. Provides the basis for the legal architecture of terrorism.

The September 9, 1986 law established a central counterterrorism system, including special prosecutors and investigative judges working closely with the intelligence services.

According to supporters, the “judicial preemptive approach” enables a flexible response to counter-terrorism threats. But civil rights defenders say strict anti-terrorism laws compromise the guarantees of liberties and procedures necessary to ensure fair trials.

A special courtroom where the historic trial of the November 13 attacks will take place at the Palace of Justice in Paris.
A special courtroom where the historic trial of the November 13 attacks will take place at the Palace of Justice in Paris. AFP

Home search without court approval.

The November 2015 attacks – which came months after the January “Charlie Hebdo attacks” in which 17 people were killed during three days of terrorism – boosted security and counter-terrorism measures.

Following the massacres at the Bataclan concert hall and elsewhere in Paris, then-French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency for an initial period of 12 days. Tea Measures have been stepped up several times in the wake of terrorist threats or attacks.As in the horrific truck attack of 2016 in the southern French city of Nice, which killed 86 people on Bastille Day.

The state of emergency allowed police to search homes and detain people without a court order. The government can also shut down groups or associations that were considered “severely damaging to public order.”

“If we consider the various legal extensions, the number of anti-terrorism laws has really increased since 2015. But they were logical and necessary,” Jean-Philippe DeRussier, a constitutional expert, told France. 24.

The Socialist Party is divided, but new laws are in place.

When Manuel Valls became Prime Minister in March 2014, he decided to reform France’s counter-terrorism policies. A law allowing security officers to conduct security patrols and search luggage on public transport was passed on March 22, 2016 – the day Brussels was the site of a deadly Islamist attack.

In early 2016, then-French President Francois Hollande’s proposal to snatch French citizenship and deport terrorists with dual citizenship sparked debate. The proposed constitutional amendment deeply divided his socialist government and led to the resignation of Justice Minister Christian Tobera. The Netherlands finally scrapped the controversial plan after realizing that a compromise on the issue was “out of reach”.

But his socialist government did not stop there. A new law targeting organized crime and terrorist financing was enacted in June 2016, giving judges and prosecutors new powers of investigation, including night searches of private property in deadly terrorism cases. Also It also enhanced their surveillance capabilities.

The law was tightened in the wake of the July 14, 2016, truck bombing in Nice, which severely punished the perpetrators of the “Criminal Association for Terrorist Acts.” A new provision also made it possible to close places of worship that promote radical ideology.

State of emergency. Become a common law

When Emmanuel Macron came to power in May 2017, he last declared a state of emergency in July 2017.

“Since 2017, there have been attempts to pass a number of security laws, or stricter security laws. Several bills have been rejected by the Constitutional Council,” DeRussier said.

Macron’s anti-terrorism law was enacted on October 30, 2017. This allows the police to set up “security perimeters” where individuals and vehicles can be searched. Other measures include shutting down religious institutions promoting radical ideology, and using the Passenger Name Record (PNR) to monitor suspected passengers.

“This is a completely hypocritical law, with some provisions amended and emergency provisions introduced in the law,” Sebastian Petrasanta, a former member of parliament and French expert on terrorism, told France24.

“We have changed the concept of premature fight against terrorism because we are not waiting to do anything. At the same time, we must recognize that the police need such resources to prevent attacks. When is a home search required for interrogation or house arrest? It is up to the investigators to know how far to go.

Legislate or negotiate?

The French government, meanwhile, was planning to tighten its 2017 anti-terrorism law to deal with the release of detainees for terrorist-linked acts. About 250 prisoners are expected to be released by the end of 2022, according to the Interior Ministry. To deal with this new situation, the French parliament enacted legislation for two years of administrative follow-up after the release of convicted terrorists from prison.

The horrific murder of French schoolteacher Samuel Petty, who was beheaded on October 16, 2020 after showing pictures of the Prophet Muhammad during a class discussion, reminded the country that the threat of terrorism is still very high. Is. The French government reacted by going one by one. A new separatist law aimed at fighting Islamic fundamentalism..

The law includes several provisions against online hate speech, protection of government employees, and strict surveillance by the state of suspected NGOs and religious associations. It also strengthens the state’s weapons against forced marriages, polygamy and the issuance of virginity certificates. Tea The Constitutional Council gave the green light to the bill. In August 2021, with only minor changes, Interior Minister Gerald Dormann tweeted that this was “great news for the Republic.”

In many cases, the adoption of new anti-terrorism laws is a way for the government to appear tough in response to Islamic attacks. “Besides, it’s often a political communication exercise,” DeRussier said.

“Considering the evolution of terrorist techniques, the laws need to be updated. But,” he added in a statement. Should legislation be enacted? “

This article has been translated. Original in French.

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