In numbers: Behind France’s two-year state of emergency

Stephane de Sakutin, AFP | Armed soldiers patrolling the streets have become a common sight in France since the first state of emergency went into force following the November 13, 2015, terror attacks in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday to defend France’s new anti-terror law, which is set to replace – and in many respects cement – the country’s nearly two-year-long state of emergency.


France’s state of emergency went into force overnight from November 13-14, 2015, following the deadliest terror attacks on French soil in modern history, when a series of coordinated shooting and bomb attacks left 130 people dead in and around Paris. Since then it has been extended a total of six times, making it France’s longest state of emergency since the measure was established in 1955.

On November 1, France is set to replace the state of emergency with a tough new anti-terror law that will permanently grant law enforcement agencies extended powers to search homes, close religious sites viewed as promoting radical ideas and restrict the movements of suspected jihadist sympathisers.

Ahead of this President Macron sent the above tweet, which translates as: "Commitments honoured, on November 1 we will leave the state of emergency by strengthening the safety of our fellow citizens."

While the government justifies the new law by saying it will “ensure the security of the French while leaving enforcement agencies the ability to operate”, human rights activists argue that the measures borrowed from the state of emergency encroach on civil liberties and discriminate against minorities, in particular Muslims.

When Macron addresses the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg he will be looking to provide assurances that his new anti-terror law will respect civic freedoms.

FRANCE 24 takes a look at some of the numbers that the government says prove the effectiveness of the stronger measures.

  • In the two years since the state of emergency went into force, the interior ministry says it has prevented 32 terror attacks in France, 13 of them in 2017 alone.
  • Nevertheless, some plots have gone undetected. In all, 239 people have been killed in Islamist-related terror attacks in France over the past two years. According to the Paris-based Center for the Analysis of Terrorism, France is considered the No. 1 Western target for the Islamic State (IS) group and accounts for as much as 30 percent of the group’s foiled and successful attacks.
  • In all, more than 4,600 warrantless raids have been carried out, and which have been largely based on unconfirmed intelligence reports and anonymous tips. Some 80 percent of these searches – or about 3,600 – took place in the first six months following the November 13 attacks. In comparison, just 58 searches were recorded between July and November of this year.
  • Of all the searches, around 1,000 have resulted in criminal investigations and 646 people have been taken into custody. But according to a source cited by French daily newspaper Le Monde, only 23 cases have led to terror-related prosecutions.
  • The raids have also resulted in the confiscation of 625 firearms so far, of which 78 have been classified as heavy weaponry, including machine guns and at least one rocket-launcher.
  • Some 752 people were temporarily confined to their homes with a daily obligation to report to the authorities. Only eight people have been confined in this manner throughout the 23-month-long state of emergency.
  • Nineteen Islamic centres have been shut down, of which 11 mosques and prayer halls remained closed as of the expiration of the state of emergency on Wednesday.

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