France’s Macron signs sweeping counterterrorism law
Paris — French President Emmanuel Macron has formally signed a sweeping counterterrorism law that replaces a two-year-old state of emergency and is meant to give police more tools to fight violent extremism.
The bill was adopted by a large majority at parliament earlier this month.
Macron said it will take effect Tuesday, just in time to replace the state of emergency that expires Wednesday.
The law gives enforcement agencies greater authority to conduct searches, to close religious facilities and to restrict the movements of people suspected of extremist ties.
Macron stressed the law will allow authorities to establish areas with extra security measures, such as during Christmas markets.
The state of emergency was first imposed in November 2015 after the Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people. It has been extended six times since then.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said 11 places of worship have been closed “for incitement to commit terrorist acts” under the state of emergency and 41 people are under house arrest because they have links to organizations spreading extremism and hatred.
The new law allows authorities to maintain such measures under certain conditions, including a judge’s permission, after lawmakers made amendments to respond to criticism that the original bill would infringe on individual liberties.
“Everyone noticed we needed a fair balance between security and freedom, and I believe this text meets this need,” Collomb said at a news conference Monday.
The new law also allows police to extend identity verification at border crossings up to 6 miles around international airports and train stations —and not just inside.
Human rights groups have criticized the bill as establishing a permanent state of emergency that could harm citizens’ rights to liberty, security, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.