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France declares end to state of emergency almost two years after Paris terror attacks

Human rights groups say new bill establishes permanent state of emergency and could harm citizens' rights to liberty, security, freedom of assembly and religion

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 31 October 2017 14:00 GMT
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French President Emmanuel Macron (C) addresses the press flanked by French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb (L) and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (R) after he signed a counterterrorism law at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France
French President Emmanuel Macron (C) addresses the press flanked by French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb (L) and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (R) after he signed a counterterrorism law at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France (EPA/CHRISTOPHE ENA)

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has declared the country's state of emergency will end tomorrow on 1 November, almost two years after the 2015 Paris attacks.

Mr Macron formally signed a sweeping counterterrorism law to replace the state of emergency, which is meant to give police more tools to fight violent extremism.

The bill was adopted by a large majority at parliament earlier this month.

Paris attacks suspect caught

The law gives enforcement agencies greater authority to conduct searches, to close religious facilities and to restrict the movements of people suspected of extremist ties.

Mr Macron stressed that it will allow authorities to establish areas with extra security measures, such as during Christmas markets.

The state of emergency was first imposed in November 2015 after the Paris terror attacks which killed 130 people.

It has been extended six times since then.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said 11 places of worship have been closed "for incitement to commit terrorist acts" under the state of emergency and 41 people are under house arrest because they have links to organisations spreading extremism and hatred.

The new law allows authorities to maintain such measures under certain conditions, including a judge's permission, after lawmakers made amendments to respond to criticism the original bill would infringe on individual liberties.

"Everyone noticed we needed a fair balance between security and freedom, and I believe this text meets this need," Mr Collomb said.

The new law also allows police to extend identity verification at border crossings up to 10 kilometres (6 miles) around international airports and train stations, and not just inside.

Human rights groups have criticised the bill as establishing a permanent state of emergency that could harm citizens' rights to liberty, security, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.

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