Published On: Thu, Jan 21st, 2016

UN asks France not to extend ‘state of emergency’

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The French government will decide within days whether to extend a three-month state of emergency put in place after jihadist attacks in November, the presidency said today.

The state of emergency, which is due to expire on February 26, has been criticised by United Nations rights experts for imposing “excessive and disproportionate” restrictions on key rights.

“The executive has not taken its decision but will take it in the coming days,” said the statement from the presidency.

The state of emergency was imposed after gunmen and suicide bombers attacked a string of Parisian cafes and restaurants, a concert hall and football stadium, leaving 130 dead and hundreds injured on November 13.

It has led to thousands of police raids and hundreds of house arrests under emergency policing powers that government wants written into the constitution.

The proposed constitutional reform includes the power to strip French citizenship from people convicted of terrorist offences, if they have another nationality, a move that has created divisions within the government and the country at large.

Today the French Human Rights League said it had approached the country’s highest court to end the state of emergency which it said was no longer justified and “seriously impacts public freedoms”.

Yesterday a group of four United Nations rights specialists also called on France “not to extend the state of emergency”.

In communication with Paris, the UN experts have “stressed the lack of clarity and precision of several provisions of the state of emergency and surveillance laws,” a statement said.

The main concerns centre on the restrictions to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to privacy, it added.

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