Hollande seeking to extend France’s state of emergency

Paris, Jan 26 (IANS) Echoing security concerns as terror threats resurfaced, French President Francois Hollande is seeking lawmakers’ approval to extend the state of emergency for another three months.

Hollande has announced a bill to prolong the state of emergency would be presented during a cabinet meeting scheduled for Feb. 3, hoping to win large endorsement of his draft law “on protection of the nation,” Xinhua news agency reported.
On November 19, the National Assembly voted for the government’s proposal to extend state of emergency to three months which is expected to expire on February 26.
To his followers, prolonging state of emergency was the adequate measure to ensure security at home and foil any potential terrorist attack in the country which is among the top targets of militant cells due to its military offensive in Syria, Iraq and Sahel region.
“I think prolonging state of emergency is a good idea and it’s useful right now, because it contributes to our security. We need to constantly be vigilant against everyday threats,” French Defene Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France 24.
Gunmen stormed simultaneously restaurants, coffees shops, theatre hall and stadium in Paris on November 13, 2015, killing 130 people. Hollande declared a state of emergency a day later.
Speaking to the BBC from Davos, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said: “We cannot always live all the time in a state of emergency. But as long as the threat is there, we must use all available means.”
By intensifying air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, Hollande announced a war against terrorism and boosted security measures at home, Xinhua said.
According to a YouGov survey for iTele new channel published earlier this month, 77 percent of respondents reported they are in favor of the state of emergency which empowers the police to conduct house searches without judicial warrants and arrest suspects.
Since November 2015, the police have conducted more than 3,800 raids seizing 500 weapons. Some 300 people were placed into custody, according to official figures.
However, the proposed constitution reform to make it easier to impose a state of emergency also gives fuel to Hollande’s domestic critics who say the law would undermine the Republic values and freedom of expression and gathering.
Pierre Laurent, head of French Communist Party, said: “This measure is useless in fight against terrorism and dangerous for the future of the Republic.”
In a statement posted on its website on Friday, the French Human Rights League expressed its objection to the government’s law, which it said was “the path of arbitrariness and violation of fundamental rights”.
According to a group of UN experts on human rights, the state of emergency measures “do not seem to adjust to the fundamental principles of necessity and proportionality”.
They noted a “lack of clarity and precision of several provisions of the state of emergency and surveillance laws,” adding they “impose excessive and disproportionate restrictions on fundamental freedoms”.
A nationwide protest against the government’s constitution reform is scheduled for January 30.