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France: Final Extension of State of Emergency

(Aug. 24, 2017) On July 6, 2017, the French Parliament adopted, in a 137-13 vote of the General Assembly, an extension of the current “state of emergency” for the sixth time since November 2015. This extension entered into force on July 15 and is set to expire on November 1, 2017. (Le Parlement vote la prolongation de l’état d’urgence en France [Parliament Adopts Extension of State of Emergency in France], FRANCE 24 (July 6, 2017).) President Emmanuel Macron stated that this would be the final extension of the state of emergency in France. (Roland Gauron & Alexis Feertchak, EN DIRECT – Revivez le discours d’Emmanuel Macron devant le Congrès à Versailles [LIVE: Relive the Speech of Emmanuel Macron Before the Congress in Versailles], LE FIGARO (July 3, 2017).)

Background

The current state of emergency was originally declared by then President François Hollande on November 13, 2015, following coordinated terrorist attacks against six public sites in Paris. (Kelsey Makeever, France: A Paradox Between Fervent Commitment to Democracy and Violation of Human Rights, 20 GONZAGA JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 17 (2016).) This exceptional legal regime has been extended multiple times. (Nicolas Boring, France: State of Emergency Extended to July 2017, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Dec. 29, 2016).)

The French state of emergency is considered “one of the broadest grants of emergency powers in a modern democratic constitution.” (Makeever, supra, at 19.)  Its current application is criticized by many, including organizations such as Amnesty International France, Human Rights Watch, and attorney and judge unions that characterized it as “toxic” for France, “inefficient,” and “counter-productive.” (Etienne Jacob, État d’urgence: chronique d’un dispositif contesté [State of Emergency: Chronicle of a Disputed Device], LE FIGARO (July 3, 2017).)  It has also been criticized by the United Nations Committee for Human Rights, which argued that “these measures do not seem to adjust to the fundamental principles of necessity and proportionality.” (UN Rights Experts Urge France to Protect Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights website (Jan. 19, 2016).)

Prepared by Marie-Philippe Lavoie, Law Library intern, under the supervision of Nicolas Boring, Foreign Law Specialist.