France Is About To Enter A Permanent State Of Emergency

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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The French parliament adopted an anti-terror bill Tuesday that would eventually end the country’s two-year state of emergency by making most of the powers permanent laws of the land.

President Emmanuel Macron has pushed for the bill to follow through on a campaign promise to end the state of emergency. The bill was adopted in a 415-127 vote.

Lawyers and activists have warned that the legislation would essentially make all the state of emergency measures permanent.

It 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 legislation.

More than 240 people have been killed in terror attacks in the country since the start of 2015, and thousands of soldiers have been deployed on the streets to ensure people’s safety.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the legislation is necessary to deal with the threat of jihadis, as he described France as being “in a state of war.”

“Lawmakers realize that today’s threat is serious and that we must protect ourselves against terrorists,” Collomb told reporters after the vote, Reuters reports. “This must be done in a way that balances security and freedom. This text will help protect French people.”

Critics have warned that the bill is too intrusive and  violates people’s basic rights.

“France’s new counterterrorism bill grants the executive far-reaching powers to clamp down on the ability of ordinary people in France to worship, assemble, move freely, express themselves and enjoy their privacy,” Kartik Raj, a Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in September. “The National Assembly needs to take the time needed to scrutinize and revise the bill before it’s too late.”

The legislation is supported by 57 percent of the population, according to a recent Fiducial/Odoxa poll. Some 89 percent believe it will improve security, while 62 percent say it would undermine their freedoms.

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