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French government set to extend state of emergency

Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP | French soldiers patrol outside the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral in December, 2015

The French government is likely to extend the controversial three-month state of emergency, which was put in place after jihadist attacks in Paris on November 13.

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The state of emergency is due to expire on February 26. It has been criticised by United Nations rights experts for imposing "excessive and disproportionate" restrictions on key rights.

"The executive has not taken its decision but will take it in the coming days," said the statement from the presidency.

To extend the state of emergency the president will need a green light from parliament. But the proposal seems to have unanimous support across the political spectrum.

“For my part, I will vote for prolonging the state of emergency. I think the terrorist threat does not disappear overnight,” National Assembly member and member of the centrist UDI party Yves Jego told FRANCE 24.

The state of emergency was imposed after gunmen and suicide bombers attacked a string of Parisian cafes and restaurants, a concert hall and football stadium, leaving 130 dead and hundreds injured.

It has led to thousands of police raids and hundreds of house arrests under emergency policing powers that the government wants written into the constitution.

The proposed constitutional reform includes the power to strip French citizenship from people convicted of terrorist offences, if they have another nationality, a move that has created divisions within the government and the country at large.

On Wednesday the French Human Rights League said it had approached the country's highest court to end the state of emergency that it said was no longer justified and "seriously impacts public freedoms".

On Tuesday a group of four United Nations rights specialists also called on France "not to extend the state of emergency".

In communication with Paris, the UN experts have "stressed the lack of clarity and precision of several provisions of the state of emergency and surveillance laws," a statement said.

The main concerns centre on the restrictions to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to privacy, it added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

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