French Senate Approves Bill To Effectively Put The Country In A Permanent State Of Emergency

REUTERS/Charles Platiau

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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A bill to permanently expand security powers for French authorities passed its first hurdle Tuesday when the upper house of the parliament approved the legislation.

Senators backed the first reading of the text in a 229-106 vote. It will now head for a debate in the lower house before it can become law.

France has been in a state of emergency since the Nov. 13, 2015, terror attack in Paris, which killed 130 people. President Emmanuel Macron has promised to end the measure by the end of the year, but critics say the replacement bill would essentially make all the state of emergency measures law of the land.

The legislation would turn warrantless property searches and house arrests into common police practice. Banning protest marches, shutting down places of worship suspected of sharing extremist views and electronic tagging for surveillance purposes are other powers police would be granted under the proposed law.

“They tell us we’re ending the state of emergency, but they are actually making it eternal. It’s an intellectual scam,” Marie-Jane Ody, vice president of a union representing judges, told French newspaper Le Figaro in a June 8 article. “Imagine a fascist-like group rises to power. All the legal instruments would be in place to commit abuse.”

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb defended the bill Tuesday as a necessary measure in the fight against terrorism.

“We want to come out from the state of emergency, but we can’t do so without counter-terrorism controls in place,” Collomb told AFP.

Nearly 250 people have been killed in terror incidents in France since January 2015.

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