New York City—Human Rights First today calls on U.S. government officials to urge their French counterparts to exercise restraint in the use of extraordinary powers to arrest, detain, and investigate individuals, in light of the three-month extension of the state of emergency in France. The French National Assembly approved the extension on Tuesday night by a vote of 212-31; the measure had already been approved by the French Senate and now will remain in effect until May 26.
“As France faces the threat of extremists who are intent on committing violent acts, the United States should urge its key ally to stay firm in its adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights, and avoid overreach or discriminatory use of emergency security measures,” said Human Rights First’s Susan Corke. “The French government should complement reasonable and evenhanded security measures with renewed efforts to strengthen civil society and crack down on hate crime in order to build stronger and more inclusive communities and address the kinds of grievances that allow extremist ideology to fester.”
The French government is also considering another measure that would amend the constitution, expanding emergency powers and allowing the government to strip an individual of French citizenship if they hold dual citizenship and have been convicted of a broadly defined terrorism-related offense, including some misdemeanors.
Experts have already raised concerns that current emergency measures are being applied in France in an overly-broad and in some cases discriminatory manner. Over the past decade and a half since the 9/11 attacks the United States has learned, sometimes painfully, that we are more successful, not less, confronting violent extremism with strategies founded in respect for human rights. This learned experience has been highlighted in President Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative, and is at the core of the U.N. Secretary General’s Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism.