France has approved new anti-terror laws that include easier searches of homes and confining individuals to their hometowns, without judicial approval, a media report said. The new law was expected to come into force before the latest state of emergency extension expired on November 1, the BBC reported.
The new law would allow members of the government – rather than judges – to approve the confinement of individuals to their hometowns, requiring them to report to police once a day. The authorities would be allowed to mount security perimeters around places deemed at risk – such as railway stations and airports – within which people and vehicles could be searched.
Mosques or other places of worship could be shut down if preachers there were found to be promoting radical ideology, the BBC report said. Approved by the country’s lower house of parliament, it was intended to bring an end to a nearly two-year-long state of emergency.
It would incorporate several measures first authorised under the emergency arrangement introduced following a November 2015 attack here by the Islamic State (IS) terror group killing 130. The state of emergency that came into force after the November 13 attack has since been extended six times.
However, as there was a consensus that to continue with the state of emergency indefinitely would be undemocratic, the new law was approved, the BBC said. The bill was approved by 415 votes to 127, with 19 abstentions, as Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told parliament on Tuesday that the threat level was still “very serious”, saying: “We’re still in a state of war.”
Most people in France approve of the move, but it has been criticised by rights groups. A recent poll by the conservative Le Figaro newspaper found that 57 per cent of French people were in favour of enshrining the measures in the law.
But Benedicte Jeannerod, France’s director for Human Rights Watch, said France had been progressively “weakening” judicial oversight in its counter-terrorism efforts, and “the normalisation of emergency powers crosses a new line”.