Premier and Minister explain counter-terrorism measures
Attack in Nice – Fight against terrorism – Joint communiqué issued by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of the Interior
Paris, 17 July 2016
In the face of the terrorism that struck us once again on 14 July in Nice, the French President has recalled the need for national unity and our country’s determination to defeat jihadist barbarity.
M. Manuel Valls, Prime Minister, and M. Bernard Cazeneuve, Interior Minister, would like to give the following details of the action the government has been taking since 2012 to combat this scourge.
Contrary to what the President of the party The Republicans said this evening, no government until now has done so much to combat terrorism.
We shall be responding, first of all, with a total mobilization of our forces, increasing the number of personnel – 9,000 police and gendarme jobs created over the whole of the five-year term, 1,900 of them to strengthen domestic intelligence, whereas 12,500 were cut between 2007 and 2012. The Interior Minister has also set in motion a new national blueprint for the intervention of forces throughout the country and modernized the way first responders – police from the BAC [anti-crime brigade] and gendarmes from the PSIG [monitoring and intervention platoons] – are equipped and armed. This has been made possible by a 17% increase in operational allocations for the domestic security forces, which was reduced by the same amount in the previous five-year term. The intelligence services have been reformed through the creation of the DGSI [Directorate-General for Internal Security], the SCRT [Central Territorial Intelligence Agency] and an operational counter-terrorism headquarters that coordinates policy for preventing radicalization and monitors the quality of follow-up of radicalized individuals. The database for reporting people radicalized into terrorism, created in 2015, enables 12,000 individuals to be permanently monitored.
We are also responding by adapting our legal tools. Three anti-terrorist acts and an intelligence act have been adopted in the course of the five-year term. An initial anti-terrorist act adopted in December 2012 enables French nationals to be tried for their participation in terrorist offences committed abroad. This act, combined with the work of our police and intelligence services, has already enabled nearly 300 sets of judicial proceedings to be initiated against more than 1,200 of our citizens implicated in jihadist networks. A second anti-terrorist act, adopted on 13 November 2014, created a ban on leaving the country, a ban on entering the country, and the closure and dereferencing of terrorist propaganda websites. The act of 3 June 2016 stepping up the fight against organized crime, terrorism and their financing now enables special investigation methods to be used in the preliminary investigation stage which were hitherto reserved for the judicial investigation, such as bugging private locations, the use of IMSI-catchers and a more widespread use of night-time searches. The act also establishes genuine life sentences for the perpetrators of terrorist crimes and toughens the conditions for detention on remand and for sentence adjustments. All these measures have been applicable since the act was promulgated. Finally, the Savary Act of 22 March 2016 also increased the level of transport security.
We shall also be responding with resolute action to prevent radicalization. As early as 2014, a comprehensive plan to combat jihadist networks was launched, with – among other things – the creation of a hotline for families that has already enabled more than 5,000 individuals to be identified and many departures to be prevented. The fight against radicalization is a fully-identified priority, and on 9 May the government announced a comprehensive plan of 80 measures to combat radicalization and terrorism, in particular with the creation of one rehabilitation and citizenship centre per region by the end of 2017. The first rehabilitation and citizenship centre will open in Indre-et-Loire on 1 September.
We shall be responding at European level. Under France’s impetus, European bodies have adopted essential measures: a modification of Article 7-2 of the Schengen Code enabling controls to be stepped up at the EU’s external borders, the creation of a European Border and Coast Guard, the revision of the Firearms Directive and the adoption of the PNR [Passenger Name Record].
The government is being extremely firm against radical Islamist discourse: since 2012, 80 expulsion measures have been issued against hate preachers and false, self-proclaimed imams. Ten radicalized mosques and prayer rooms have been closed. None were closed during the previous five-year term. As for the En Nour mosque in Nice, it was not the préfet [high-ranking civil servant representing the state] but the courts that decided to open it, sanctioning Nice city council’s failures with regard to legal rules. We are, indeed, a country where the rule of law applies.
The government paid the closest attention to the question of rétention administrative (1). Either an isolated individual plans to carry out an act collectively or individually, in which case a prison sentence for terrorism-related criminal offences applies, rather than rétention administrative; or there is no evidence justifying a terrorist risk (the S-file is a warning, an intelligence tool, but not evidence) and consequently the [planned] measure to restrict freedom cannot be implemented because it does not comply with constitutional and European rules, pursuant to Article 66. Furthermore, in its decision of 17 December 2015 on this subject, issued at the government’s request, the Conseil d’Etat (2) very clearly stated that: “outside of any criminal proceedings, the detention of persons posing radicalization risks is not permitted constitutionally or conventionally”. Our constitution guarantees public freedoms: arbitrary decisions are unconstitutional. Above all, they are neither acceptable nor effective.
Moreover, since 3 June 2016 it has been an offence, punishable by two years’ imprisonment, to regularly browse jihadist websites. These provisions add to existing legislation and are already in force.
Finally, the isolation of radicalized prisoners has been tested in five prisons since January 2015. Radicalized prisoners are separated from others and have individual cells. In addition to this, they follow a special programme.
This resolute action is yielding results: 16 attacks have been thwarted on our soil since 2013. One hundred and sixty individuals with links to terrorist activity have been arrested in France since the beginning of the year, thanks to the efforts of our services. Since the re-establishment of border controls on the evening of 13 November, a total of 48 million people have been checked at our land, air and sea borders, and 28,000 individuals have been prevented from entering our country.
The government is totally determined to continue and step up these efforts, with due regard for our democratic rules and national cohesion, with the sole aim of ensuring the security of the French people and defending France./.
(1) Detention of any non-EU national who is subject to a deportation decision, prior to him/her actually being deported. He/she is taken to a secure location, other than a prison, guarded by police.
(2) Supreme administrative court which also advises the government on legislation.