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France: Anti-Terrorist Law Prohibiting Citizens from Leaving France Found Constitutional

(Oct. 30, 2015) In November 2014, France adopted a new law to reinforce its fight against terrorism. (Nicolas Boring, France: Six French Citizens Prohibited from Leaving Under New Anti-Terrorism Law, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Feb. 26, 2015) .) The law gives authorities the option to prohibit French citizens suspected of planning to participate in terrorist activities abroad from leaving France for a period of six months, renewable for up to two years. (Loi n° 2014-1353 du 13 novembre 2014 renforçant les dispositions relatives à la lutte contre le terrorisme [Law No. 2014-1353 of November 13, 2014, Strengthening Provisions on the Fight Against Terrorism], art. 1, LEGIFRANCE; codified in Chapitre IV: Interdiction de sortie du territoire, Code de la Sécurité Intérieure [Chapter IV : Prohibition Against Exiting the Country, Internal Security Code], art. L224-1, LEGIFRANCE.)

On July 15, 2015, the Conseil Constitutionnel (Constitutional Council, the only French court with the authority to verify the constitutionality of laws) was asked to rule on whether the new law is unconstitutional. On October 14, 2015, the Conseil declared the provisions of the law to be constitutional. (Décision No. 2015-490 QPC du 14 octobre 2015, M. Omar K. [Decision No. 2015-490 QPC of October 14, 2015, Mr. Omar K.] (Oct. 14, 2015), Conseil Constitutionnel website.)

The Conseil explained that freedom of movement must be balanced with the need to maintain public order. (Id.) The nine judges of the Conseil ruled that the law does not unduly infringe on freedom of movement, because the decision to prohibit French citizens from leaving France is temporary and can be appealed before an administrative judge. (Id.)

This article was prepared with the assistance of Law Library of Congress Intern Chloé Gillenwater.