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France to opt out of European human rights convention because of Paris attacks

A police officer in Paris this week
A police officer in Paris this week Reuters
3 min

France is to opt out of some aspects of the European Human Rights Convention while the state of emergency declared after this month's Paris attacks is in force. As well as raids on mosques and Islamic charities, police have swooped on radical environmentalists since the measure was introduced.

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Some of the measures taken because of the state of emergency are "likely to necessitate exemption from some of the rights guaranteed" by the convention, the French authorities have told Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland.

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States are allowed to opt out in case of war or a danger "threatening the life of the nation", although they cannot be exempted from certain provisions, including bans on torture and cruel and inhuman treatment.

Exemptions can be challenged at the European Court of Human Rights.

There have been 1,616 searches of premises, 211 arrests, 161 people charged and 293 weapons seized since the state of emergency was declared.

Among the premises raided have been mosques, prayer rooms and shops targeted because "radical Islamists" were said to frequent them or because some sermons given were judged extreme.

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But others have been on the homes of people who have taken part in environmental protests and occupations, such as the camp at the site of the proposed airport near Nantes in western France and one aiming to stop a dam in the south-west where a protester was killed.

Several activists have been placed under house arrest, apparently for fear that they might have defied the ban on demonstrations ahead of the Cop21 climate conference, which opens on Sunday 29 December.

"Special measures are necessary for the conference's security" and there have been calls for "violent actions", according to warrants seen by Le Monde newspaper.

On Tuesday a group of intellectuals published an appeal to defy the state of emergency in Libération newspaper and a Facebook page calling for "disobedience" of the ban on Sunday's planned march for the climate had attracted 4,700 participants on Friday.

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