In the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris earlier this month, France declared a state of emergency and implemented sweeping anti-terrorism measures.
When lawmakers extended that state of emergency (and its security provisions) for three months, some eyebrows arched over the potential cost to French civil liberties. In an interview with NPR, Jean-Pierre Dubois, the president of France’s Human Rights League, raised the issue of how French authorities could overreach into matters beyond terrorism.
But when you come to the articles of the bill, it’s not at all terrorism. It’s everything about security and public order. That means the exceptional extension of the police powers and the exceptional restraints of civil liberties is not at all only for the purposes of fighting terrorism but for anything during three months. And we don’t understand that because it’s not really very fair to tell people it’s about terrorism and to extend so much the exceptional law field in a way.
On Sunday, demonstrators gathering in Paris to protest the global climate conference learned firsthand about France’s new security measures when they encountered riot police with pepper spray and stun grenades. According to reports, the vast majority of the roughly 200 people arrested after clashing with security forces were held in detention.
“French President Francois Hollande said the violence was ‘scandalous’ both because the clashes were caused by ‘disruptive elements’ that have nothing to do with environmental defenders and because they occurred at Place de la Republique, which has been a memorial square for the 130 victims of the November 13 Paris attacks,” the AP reported.