A French soldier on the Champs-Élysées, in Paris. Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson, European Pressphoto Agency.

France’s antiterrorism laws will lead to long-term side effects

4 January, 2016

”Since President François Hollande of France declared a state of emergency after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, more than 2,700 police raids have been carried out. They have yielded very little that can be linked to terrorism, but have traumatized citizens and left havoc in their wake.”
France’s Diminished Liberties, the New York Times

Institutionalised discrimination triggered by fear will have consequences in the psyche of all who live in France, foreigners and citizens. The lack of resilient human rights safeguards easily available to all against State-sponsored ethnic profiling and violence will resonate over several generations and instill enduring distrust of authority.

France’s woes about its banlieues are not going to end anytime soon and social integration will be made more difficult. French officials should meditate Lord Hoffman’s words when discussing British detention policies in A and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] UKHL 56 (also known as the Belmarsh 9 case) : “The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve. It is for Parliament to decide whether to give the terrorists such a victory.”

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