French war on terror criticized by UN

French president Emmanuel Macron’s counter-terror bill, which he proposed in order to end the two-year state of emergency in France following terrorist attacks in the country, may violate human rights, according to the UN. The state of emergency gave French authorities extended reach in power, including making it legal to conduct house raids and searches without warrants, place suspects under house arrest without proper judicial process, close places of worship and restrict large gathering of people.

Violations

The bill proposed by the French president will maintain some of these state-of-emergency powers, making them legal under permanent law. The United Nations, however, warns that converting some of these measures into law may lead to human rights violations and abuses of power.

According to special UN rapporteur Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the bill proposed by Macron consists of measures that erode the public’s rights to liberty, security, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion–particularly for Muslims. UN rapporteur, Michel Forst, told France Inter Radio that the UN is watching France closely on this issue, because of the country’s “international impact and standing. […]  What France does is not trivial. We want France to do better so it doesn’t inspire bad practice in other countries.”

Religious profiling

Accusations of religious profiling have already been made against these proposed measures, which have almost exclusively been applied to Muslims. The Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have made complaints of religious profiling.

Global failures

Terror attacks in France since 2015 have led to the death of more than 230 civilians. In 2016 the French parliament cited multiple failings in French intelligence and called for the creation of a national counter-terrorism unit similar to that of the US.

The commission highlighted a “global failure” of French intelligence related to the Charlie Hebdo and November 2015 attacks in Paris, and recommended a total overhaul of the intelligence services and the creation of a single, US-style national counter-terrorism agency.