http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/french-mps-to-vote-on-tough-anti-terror-law/article/504087

French MPs to vote on tough anti-terror law

Posted Oct 3, 2017 by Gina DOGGETT (AFP)
A new counter-terrorism law is expected to sail through France's parliament Tuesday, making permanent several controversial measures under the state of emergency that has been in place for nearly two years in the face of repeated attacks.
France has deployed soldiers at train stations and other major sites as part of the state of emergen...
France has deployed soldiers at train stations and other major sites as part of the state of emergency in place since November 2015
GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT, AFP

A new counter-terrorism law is expected to sail through France's parliament Tuesday, making permanent several controversial measures under the state of emergency that has been in place for nearly two years in the face of repeated attacks.

The vote comes just two days after more bloodshed, with a suspected Islamist radical stabbing two women to death in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille.

In Paris, anti-terrorism police are also investigating the discovery of a homemade bomb in the hallway of a building in the wealthy 16th district on Saturday.

Five people were arrested over the device, including one who is on France's terror watch list.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the incident "shows that the threat level in France is extremely high".

"We are still in a state of war even if Daesh has suffered some military defeats," he added, using an Arabic acronym of the Islamic State (IS) group.

- 'State of war' -

The stabbings in Marseille brought to 241 the number of people killed in jihadist attacks in France since January 2015 -- many of which have been claimed by IS.

The group, which is fast losing territory across the remaining parts of its self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria, was quick to claim responsibility for Marseille assault, which was carried out by a 29-year-old Tunisian.

Collomb has defended the anti-terror bill as a "lasting response to a lasting threat", but it has come under fire from the French left and human rights groups.

The law gives authorities the power to place people under house arrest without the prior approval of a judge and to throw a wide security cordon around place or events that they deem vulnerable to attack.

However the new law will require a warrant for house searches. One of the most controversial measures of the state of emergency allowed police to conduct night raids without judicial oversight.

On Monday, anti-discrimination group SOS Racisme demonstrated outside parliament against provisions that will allow police to profile foreigners and demand to see their ID papers.

"People who are supposedly foreigners, black or north African will be stigmatised," Thierry Paul Valette, head of another anti-racism group Egalite Nationale, told French daily Liberation.

The law, designed to replace the state of emergency that France has been under since the wave of bombings and shootings at Paris nightspots and France's national stadium in November 2015, is expected to come into force on November 1.

It was passed by the upper house Senate in July and is expected to pass easily in the National Assembly, where President Emmanuel Macron's centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party has a comfortable majority.

The state of emergency was meant to be temporary but has been extended six times in order to protect major sporting and cultural events, as well as this year's presidential and parliamentary elections.

"There are a lot of people who say (the anti-terror law) kills freedoms (but) if you don't have it you end up with attacks like that," Collomb said Tuesday, referring to the Marseille stabbings.

"I'm not saying that we will prevent attacks altogether, but we have already foiled a number of attacks that would have killed many people on French soil," he said.

Collomb said on September 12 that 12 planned attacks had been foiled so far this year.

- Freedoms 'eroded' -

The multiple extensions of the state of emergency met with little public opposition in terror-scarred France, with surveys suggesting most people back the changes even at the cost of certain civil liberties.

Critics of the new law have been limited largely to leftist politicians and human rights groups, though UN experts also raised objections in a letter to the French government last week.

"Gradually our public freedoms... are being eroded," said lawmaker Alexis Corbiere of the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) last week.

Former prime minister Manuel Valls, now a lawmaker allied with Macron's party, said the new legislation was "what needed to be done" and accused leftist critics of being soft on hardline Islamists.

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