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France: State of Emergency Officially Ends as New Security Measures Come Into Force

(Nov. 29, 2017) The state of emergency declared by the French government following the Paris terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015, and renewed several times since, finally expired on November 1, 2017. (Jean-Baptiste Jacquin & Julia Pascual, Deux ans après, la fin de l’état d’urgence [Two Years Later, the End of the State of Emergency], LE MONDE (updated Nov. 2, 2017); Nicolas Boring, France: Final Extension of State of Emergency, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Aug. 24, 2017); Nicolas Boring, France: State of Emergency Extended to July 2017, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Dec. 29, 2016).) However, several aspects of the state of emergency were made permanent in Law No. 2017-1510, promulgated on October 30, 2017.  (Loi No. 2017-1510 du 30 octobre 2017 renforçant la sécurité intérieure et la lutte contre le terrorisme [Law No. 2017-1510 of 30 October 2017 Reinforcing Domestic Security and the Fight Against Terrorism] (Loi No. 2017-1510), LEGIFRANCE.)

Principal Provisions of Law No. 2017-1510

The new security law has four main points. The first allows local prefects to establish “protection perimeters” around places and/or events deemed particularly vulnerable to a terrorist attack, such as concerts or sports events.  (Id. art. 1.)  Individuals and vehicles entering such “protection perimeters” could be subject to searches and could be denied entry if they refuse to be searched.  (Id.; Renforcer la sécurité intérieure et la lutte contre le terrorisme [To Reinforce Domestic Security and the Fight Against Terrorism], GOUVERNEMENT.FR (French government website) (updated Oct. 31, 2017).)

The second part of the new law allows the government to close places of worship where terrorism, hatred, or discrimination is promoted. (Loi No. 2017-1510, art. 2.)  A government decision to close a place of worship under this provision must be preceded by at least 48 hours’ notice, so as to allow the religious organization responsible for the place of worship to challenge the decision before an administrative court.  (Id.)

The third main point of Law No. 2017-1510 is to allow the government to impose certain monitoring measures on individuals who present a “particularly serious” threat and who are in regular contact with organizations or individuals who engage in or promote terrorist activities.  (Id. art. 3.)  These monitoring measures, which are ordered for periods of three months, are meant to be less constraining than house arrest but to nonetheless allow the government to keep track of the individual(s) in question.  (Renforcer la sécurité intérieure et la lutte contre le terrorisme, supra.)  Monitoring measures may include prohibiting the subject from leaving a certain geographic area and requiring the subject to report to the local police station once a day. (Loi No. 2017-1510, art. 3.)

The fourth principal provision of the new law allows local prefects, upon authorization from a judge, to order law enforcement officials to conduct searches of any place when there is a “serious reason to believe” that a terrorism suspect frequents that place. (Id. art. 4.)

Miscellaneous other provisions include authorizing the government to investigate public servants who are in a position of authority and who are at risk of becoming radicalized, adapting French law on the use of passenger name records for travelers, and clarifying the rules for the interception of wireless communications. (Renforcer la sécurité intérieure et la lutte contre le terrorisme, supra.)  Another noteworthy provision makes it a crime, punishable by up to 15years of prison time, for a person who has authority over a minor to make or encourage that minor to engage in terrorism. (Id.; Loi No. 2017-1510, art. 10.)