Bill presented to extend France’s state of emergency

Council of Ministers’ meeting – State of emergency

Paris, 10 December 2016

The Prime Minister and the Interior Minister presented a bill to extend the application of Act no. 55-385 of 3 April 1955 on the state of emergency.

Given that the terrorist threat remains at a very high level, the bill proposes to extend the state of emergency until 15 July 2017, in metropolitan France and the overseas departments.

Since it came into force on the mainland on 14 November 2015 and in the overseas departments on 19 November 2015, the state of emergency has proven its effectiveness by enabling measures to be used which have a real destabilizing effect on individuals directly implicated in the jihadist movement and on the criminal rings that fuel terrorism.

Since the last extension of the state of emergency, the police and gendarmerie services have carried out 500 searches. The effectiveness of these measures was reinforced by the act of 21 July 2016, which provided an updated legal framework with all the safeguards necessary for seizing, during the searches, computer data that is used following authorization by a judge. Moreover, more than 110 house arrests have been ordered since the last extension of the state of emergency.

Because the succession of state-of-emergency extensions may lead to house arrests whose duration is significant in terms of freedom to come and go, the bill sets a maximum 15-month duration for uninterrupted house arrest for the same person. However, it stipulates that, in the event of new events or information, house arrest is a measure that can be resumed when there are serious reasons for believing a person’s behaviour is a threat to security and public order.

Furthermore, the bill takes into account the distinctive features of the incipient electoral period and aims to prevent the extension law expiring, in accordance with the provisions of Article 4 of the 3 April 1955 law on the state of emergency, because of the government resignations that traditionally follow the elections of the French President and National Assembly deputies.

Al the measures implemented under the state of emergency will obviously continue to be subject to dual controls, from the administrative justice system on the one hand and Parliament on the other.

The state of emergency is one of the responses the rule of law provides to terrorism. It is part of a more comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism which the government has been conducting for nearly five years./.

Published on 13/12/2016

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