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What does France's anti-terror state of emergency mean?

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls addresses the National Assembly on 18 November 2015.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls addresses the National Assembly on 18 November 2015. AFP

The French National Assembly has agreed to extend the state of emergency declared after last week's terror attacks in Paris until the end of February and the Senate was set to do so on Friday. What powers does the move give the French state?

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There were only six votes against in the lower house of the French parliament when it voted to prolong the state of emergency for three months and amend the 1955 law that made it possible.

Here are the bill's main provisions:

  • House arrests: Anyone seriously suspected of being a threat to public order can be placed under house arrest and forbidden to contact other people suspected of preparing acts deemed to threaten public order.
  • Searches of premises: The interior minister can order premises to be searched without a warrant from a judge and copies of all digital information found can be made, although the premises of MPs, lawyers, magistrates and journalists are exempt.
  • Blocking websites and social media: The government can order websites or social media deemed to be justifying terrorism or inciting terrorist acts, although the possibility of censoring the press and radio, present in the 1955 law but never used, has been scrapped.
  • Banning organisations: Organisations that participate in, facilitate or incite acts deemed a threat to public order may be banned, as can any that people placed under house arrest are members of.
  • A reeducation centre for radicalised youth: Young people deemed to have fallen prey to jihadist propaganda may be sent to a centre whose site will be decided before the end of the year.
  • Overseas territories: The state of emergency is to be extended to French overseas territories in the West Indies and the Indian Ocean.

 

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