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Valls promises anti-terror clampdown after Charlie Hebdo attacks

The French parliament observes a minute of silence in tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks
The French parliament observes a minute of silence in tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks Reuters/Charles Platiau

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced new counter-terrorism measures in the aftermath of last week’s Charlie Hebdo attacks. They include tracking air passengers’ movements and isolating jihadists in prison.

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MPs on Tuesday sang the national anthem in the National Assembly for the first time since the end of World War I and Valls received a standing ovation after his speech, in a rare show of unity from MPs.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

He ruled out "exceptional measures which deviate from the principles of law and values" but promised to “regularly reinforce” the resources devoted to intelligence gathering inside France.

Before the end of the year special areas for jihadists will be set up in French prisons and a new list of people convicted on terror charges or involved in “combat groups” will be launched.

A bill is being prepared to make it easier for police to tap phones and introduce other anti-terror measures.

And France will be ready by September to take part in the PNR scheme to track the movements of air passengers so as to spot potential jihadists European Union leaders hope to introduce.

“We are one of the last Western democracies to not have a coherent legal framework for its intelligence services,” he told MPs. “A bill will soon be introduced to parliament that aims to provide these services all the means necessary to accomplish their mission, while respecting the principals of protecting public and individual liberties. This law must be passed as soon as possible.”

Members of the right-wing UMP party applauded the speech but some are calling for a French version of the Patriot Act passed in the US after the 9/11 attack on New York and Washington.

“Public freedom and the freedom of certain individuals” will have to be restricted, UMP parliamentary group Christian Jacob said.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Tuesday accused the European Union (EU) of weakening France's defences against terrorism.

Speaking on Tuesday during a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on last week’s attacks in Paris she blamed the EU for economic austerity policies that weakened France's military and police forces.

She also said Europe had forced France to open its borders, which kept it from stopping people who travelled to Syria or Yemen from returning to France.
 

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