President outlines French action to combat terrorism
New Year greetings to the security forces – Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)
Paris, 7 January 2016
France/fight against terrorism/increased security resources
Never has your job been more necessary and more demanding, because terrorism continues to pose a formidable threat to our country. On the external front, we’re responding to it with our armed forces, which are fighting the barbarism of Daesh [so-called ISIL] alongside our allies. Here too, we’re getting results. The terrorist group is retreating.
On the domestic front, we’re tackling it by hunting down terrorists, dismantling networks, drying up sources of funding and countering radicalization propaganda. To meet this challenge, you must be given the necessary resources. (…)
Every year since the beginning of my mandate, a further 500 police and gendarmerie posts have been created. Two thousand jobs have been created in the intelligence services. However, the seriousness of the threat requires us to take our commitment to an even higher level, despite the budget constraints everyone here is familiar with. So I announced, before a joint session of Parliament, that an extra 5,000 police and gendarme jobs would be created between now and 2017.
A total of more than 9,000 police and gendarme jobs will have been created over five years, with 12,000 having been axed previously. We have to make more efforts. On top of this I increased (…) the number of judges, prison and customs staff, and there was also unprecedented investment in the Interior Ministry’s equipment and modus operandi.
This plan will equip your forces – the Interior Minister will ensure this – with 4,000 brand new vehicles and renovate many buildings, police stations and gendarmeries, as well as modernize your communications. I’m also aware of the efforts being made by communes vis-à-vis local police. These police will therefore be equipped with weapons from national police stocks. (…)
Over the past year, nearly 200 individuals suspected of wanting to join terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq have been banned from leaving the country. More than 50 foreigners have been banned from the country. But, here too, we needed to be able to take further measures after what happened, after the acts of war on 13 November.
State of emergency/Constitution
So I had to take exceptional steps, at the Prime Minister’s proposal, and declare the state of emergency. Parliament has extended it until March. Its implementation has allowed us to carry out police searches, which brought to light 25 offences directly linked to terrorism and led to the seizure of 400 weapons, including 40 weapons of war. (…)
Nevertheless, a state of emergency in a democracy which wants to defend itself but also defend its freedoms shouldn’t be maintained indefinitely. It complies with specified conditions and the rules governing it are based on an act – an old one, moreover, from 1955 – which was unable to provide for the measures which are essential given the situation today.
This is why I proposed writing the state of emergency into our Constitution, in order to specify the resources which could be used in that framework and identify the reasons which could justify it being activated. Our freedoms must be guaranteed, the battle against those who want to attack these freedoms can in no way justify their being diminished. France knows what it would lose by neglecting its founding values.
In order to end the state of emergency without weakening us, the government has called for further legislative measures to be submitted to Parliament.
A bill stepping up the fight against organized crime and reforming criminal procedure has been prepared by the Keeper of the Seals, the Interior Minister and the Finance Minister. The text addresses the challenges we’ll encounter. (…)./.