French anti-terror measures restrict key freedoms: UN

19th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

France's state of emergency and new electronic surveillance laws imposed following the November attacks in Paris impose "excessive and disproportionate" restrictions on key rights, UN experts said Tuesday.

The group of four United Nations rights specialists also called on France "not to extend the state of emergency beyond 26 February, 2016", when the measure is provisionally due to expire.

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.

In December, the French cabinet backed reform proposals that could see the state of emergency enshrined in the constitution, including special policing powers, like house arrests and the right to raid houses without clearance by a judge.

The electronic surveillance law, adopted in November, widens the executive's power to collect and store data without judicial authorisation.

"Ensuring adequate protection against abuse in the use of exceptional measures and surveillance measures in the context of the fight against terrorism is an international obligation of the French State," the UN experts said.

The UN group comprises David Kaye, specialist on freedom of opinion, Maina Kiai who works on peaceful assembly, Michel Forst, expert on human rights workers, Ben Emmerson, an expert on human rights and counter-terrorism and Joseph Cannataci, a specialist on the right to privacy.

Gunmen and suicide bombers attacked Parisian nightspots, killing 130 people on November 13.


© 2016 AFP

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