Report slams year-long application of state of emergency in France

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(Paris) The application of state emergency in France has led to numerous human rights violations, stated FIDH today, while publishing their report “Counter-terrorism measures and human rights: when the exception becomes the norm” in English. FIDH regrets that this exceptional regime, due to last 12 days following the terrorist attacks on 13 November 2015, is still in place today.

The report shows the incompatibility of the French government’s response to the recent spate of terrorist attacks with respect for fundamental rights. It also observes the impact on the Muslims in France, who are at a high risk of stigmatisation and having their social links broken down.

“Since November 2015, the fundamental principle of equality has been significantly weakened through a series of measures that single out one part of the population. The actions of the French authorities mark a serious setback to the rule of law”

stated FIDH

The report presents testimonies of individuals who had been placed under house arrest or been the subject of police searches at home or work. Many of them described the serious consequences of these measures on their personal and professional lives, and in some cases, even their health.

Since November 2015, France has experienced further acts of terrorism, with the Bastille Day attack in Nice and the murder of a priest in a church close to Rouen later in July. Less than a week after the Nice attack, a fourth extension of the state of emergency was approved, this time for a period of six months. The government also re-authorised the seizure of computer files during police searches, a measure previously declared unconstitutional by the French courts. The measure now carries additional guarantees, the government claimed.

“France is now in a situation where an “exceptional” regime is becoming permanent, in the name of combating terrorism. But there is little evidence that this approach is working and it comes at a cost to fundamental rights. We call on the French authorities to carefully assess the existing arsenal of counter-terrorism measures and to invest more in analysing what motivates these kinds of attacks, in order to better prevent them.”

added FIDH

The report, initially published in French in June 2016, follows a fact-finding mission conducted in March 2016 with the support of FIDH’s member organsiation in France, the Ligue des droits de l’Homme. The FIDH mission, led by Mauritanian lawyer Fatimata Mbaye, Tunisian lawyer Mokhtar Trifi, and Ramzi Kassem, professor of American law, interviewed several individuals including French civil society actors, members of Parliament and the Conseil d’Etat (the highest chamber in the French administrative court system), syndicates of judges, lawyers and police officers, the national human rights Ombudsman (Défenseur des droits) and the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH), an independent advisory body mandated to guide the government on issues relating to human rights and civil liberties.

Read the report Counter-terrorism measures and human rights: when the exception becomes the norm

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