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French MPs to debate post-attacks constitution changes

General view of the National Assembly during a debate to extend a state of emergency, 19 November 2015
General view of the National Assembly during a debate to extend a state of emergency, 19 November 2015 Reuters/Charles Platiau

French lawmakers have begun debating proposals to change the constitution to strip dual nationals of their French citizenship in terrorism cases and enshrine in the text controversial measures put in place after the 13 November attacks on Paris.

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The terrorist attacks in the French capital that left 130 dead and were claimed by the Islamic State group caused a radical rethink of security measures in France.

President François Hollande declared a state of emergency in the wake of the carnage, giving police and security forces sweeping powers.

The Socialist government now wants to write the measure - created during the Algerian war in 1955 - into France's constitution, citing what it sees as a persistent threat from jihadism.

As is the case now, parliament would still need to give its approval for a state of emergency lasting more than 12 days, so the move to include it in the constitution is largely symbolic.

Some rights groups believe the measure gives draconian powers to the security services and erodes citizens' rights.

The French Human Rights League (LDH), one of many bodies questioning the efficacy of the harsher measures, said recently that only four legal procedures relating to terrorism had emerged from more than 2,500 police raids carried out under the post-attacks state of emergency.

On Thursday an Amnesty International report also harshly criticised France's declared state of emergency.

Several thousand people have already marched through Paris and other cities to protest against the measures and a demonstration is expected to be held in front of the National Assembly building during Friday's debate.

Lawmakers are due to vote on the reform package on 10 February.

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