On Wednesday, May 24, Emmanuel Macron announced his intention to have an umpteenth extension of the state of emergency voted for until the 1st November 2017. It will be the sixth extension since the attacks in the Bataclan in November 2015 where 130 people were killed.
Benoît Hamon was the only candidate to claim that he was strongly opposed to a continuation of the state of emergency.
During the debate of the primaries against Valls, Benoît Hamon said:
«I think that when you run for president you need to listen to and respect the advice of the highest jurisdictions, the Conseil Constitutionnel and the Conseil d’Etat. Both say that the state of emergency cannot be permanent.
… It seems to me that, in view of all the equipment at the service of our police and our justice departments, we have everything we need to fight against terrorism efficiently, without maintaining a state of emergency."
Actually everything has already been planned in the two anti-terrorist and intelligence laws that were voted during the mandate of François Hollande. The policemen and intelligence agents have been provided with new equipment and measures: electronic surveillance, night raids, house arrests,dissolution of associations, deportation of imams that preach violence…
So why continue to mothball our democracy?
Through the state of emergency the arbitrariness of the state and the police is reinforced, and the control of justice is lessened.
The authorities have every power on the circulation and stay of people, on the closing of places open to the public, on the right to demonstrate, on administrative searches without the control of a judge.
The Human Rights League and the Union of French lawyers are worried about these downward slides and denounce a violation of the rights of freedom, of safety, freedom of movement, private life, freedom of association and of expression.
Far too many administrative searches are conducted for common right affairs, not linked in any way to terrorist activities. Even worse « the state can look for any information on any electronic or computing device, specifically any information accessible via PIN or password collected during a search, any content stored on the web », according to La Quadrature du Net. In fact, the safety of our numeric data would be threatened.
Under the state of emergency an authoritarian government overwhelmed by a stream of demonstrations and social movements would be absolutely free to strike much harder its opponents.
Who can believe that Macron’s intention to reform the work code by ruling is not going to bring about an eruption of social conflicts? In the context of the state of emergency will it be possible to commit oneself and campaign freely on the public space without risking violent actions from the forces of order?
It is clear that a majority of French people is favourable to an extension of the state of emergency, because they live in fear, a fear that is skillfully maintained by some political parties. Nevertheless French people are getting disillusioned when they realise that these measures are not always efficient, and they cease to believe in them. (a survey run by YouGov for the HuffPost and ITélé 20/07/2016).
"We are told to go out and enjoy life, to shout that we are not afraid, but we won’t hear this message of hope and resilience if we live too long with measures restricting our liberties », says Ecology MP Noël Mamère, adding rightly «We are sending a message of resignation to the Islamic State, who wants to prove that our rule of law is weak. »
Benoît Hamon is right, « the state of emergency does not perform any function any longer except for a symbolic function ». We have to reinforce and coordinate all the intelligence services and allocate more police forces in the field, including in difficult areas.
And above all work ahead for a fairer, more humanistic, more egalitarian
and more secular society, so that never again sons and daughters of France radicalize to the point of taking arms against their own country. Terrorism is a war led by an army that has no notion of crime against humanity and doesn’t care at all about international laws. We must fight for freedom and against every single kind of discrimination. If Paris is to be celebrated, so is our capacity to live together!
Written by Sophie Boussemart
Translated by Rebecca Schurtz