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France

Sarkozy promises law to strip citizenship from cop killers

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-12-22

Sarkozy’s hard line against criminal immigrants continues apace after an announcement that a law will be drafted that would strip citizenship from immigrants of foreign origin if they kill or attempt to kill public officials.

France will forge ahead with legislation to strip immigrants of their French citizenship if they are convicted of killing or attempting to kill police officers or public officials.
 
A statement from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office on Monday said the government would draft a law “as soon as possible”.
 
The legislation would apply to immigrants who have been French for less than 10 years, and signals Sarkozy’s determination to continue his widely criticised crackdown on criminals of foreign origin.

Sarkozy has been accused of pandering to the far-right with hard line policies ahead of the 2012 presidential elections.

During August, security forces dismantled hundreds of Roma (gypsy) camps across France and “repatriated” their inhabitants, mostly to Romania and Bulgaria.

And without mentioning Roma specifically, Sarkozy’s announcement said the government would also seek legislation "to facilitate the deportation of foreigners in irregular situations including, in some circumstances, citizens of the European Union".

The new law in this respect would be enforced when these immigrants "threaten public order, have no durable means of supporting themselves or abuse the right of free movement."

Crackdown and criticism

The announcement of the main themes for a crackdown on criminal elements within France’s large immigrant population came in a speech by Sarkozy at Grenoble at the end of July.

Sarkozy was responding to riots in the south-eastern mountain city of Grenoble. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux also suggested that French citizenship could be removed from naturalised citizens who engaged in polygamy and female circumcision.

These latter crimes were not included in Monday’s announcement of plans to strip citizenship from immigrants accused of serious crimes, although it said fraud prosecutions would be tightened where multiple state benefits claims were made for partners.

Legal experts say the Constitutional Council could throw out the proposed government bill that critics say runs counter to the Article 1 of the French constitution, which says that all French citizens are equal before the law, regardless of race, creed or origin.

"It seems to me to pose real problems," Gerard Larcher, president of the Senate - the upper house of parliament - and a member of Sarkozy's own UMP party, told the newspaper Le Monde.

"The real question is: would it really improve French people's security?"

Left-wing critics have accused Sarkozy of playing to racist sentiment by lumping violent crime and immigration together, and creating two classes of citizenship.

But an opinion poll for the right-wing Le Figaro published shortly after his July speech found nearly three-quarters of voters supported his hard line proposals. 

Date created : 2010-09-06

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