French parliament extends state of emergency to May 26

Anne Pascale Reboul, AFP/Archives | The National Assembly or lower house

France's Parliament has overwhelmingly approved a three-month extension of the state of emergency imposed after deadly attacks in and around Paris on November 13 despite opposition from rights groups that say it undermines civic freedoms.


The National Assembly or lower house of Parliament approved the extension Tuesday night by a vote of 212-31. The measure had already been approved by the Senate and now will remain in effect until May 26.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve argued in Tuesday's debate at the National Assembly that the threat of new terrorist violence remains very high after the Islamic extremist attacks that killed 130 people.

The state of emergency expands police powers to carry out arrests and searches and allows authorities to restrict the movements of people and vehicles at specific times and places.

The state of emergency had already been extended once and was scheduled to end on February 26.

Another government bill presented earlier this month would further extend police powers, including allowing officers to use their weapons to "neutralise someone who has just committed one or several murders and is likely to repeat these crimes".

Currently, self-defence is the only legal justification an officer has for shooting someone. The proposed change would, for instance, permit police to shoot a gunman who had fired at civilians and appeared likely to do so again.

The proposals would also make it easier for police to carry out night raids and search luggage or vehicles near "sensitive" sites and buildings.

France's state of emergency has been criticised by United Nations rights experts for imposing "excessive and disproportionate" restrictions on key rights.

The UN panel had urged the French government not to extend the emergency powers beyond the February deadline.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

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