The National Assembly has voted to extend the ongoing state of emergency in France for another six months until the end of January 2017.
The measures were set to be lifted on July 26th until the deadly attack in Nice last week
The extension needs to be approved by the Senate after French lawmakers voted to extend government powers for the fourth time on Wednesday night.
President Francois Hollande declared the state of emergency last year, a day after coordinated attacks on November 13 were carried out by teams of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) gunmen, killing 130 people.
The powers deriving from a law adopted in 1955 offer the government a number of exceptional powers in the event of a threat to national security. Under the new extension, French authorities have been given the power to make house arrests without a court order, as well as conduct searches without a court authorization.
Furthermore, the rights for law enforcement are being extended to allow “follow-on searches” if the original search produced material of a possible terror-related activity. The extension allows authorities to step up the surveillance of telephones and computers, previously not included in the State of Emergency measures. Emergency powers also allow the government agencies to restrict domestic and foreign travel for terror suspects.
Ahead of the decision by French lawmakers, Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls emphasized that emergency powers are necessary to ensure the safety of the public. Valls even warned of possibility of further attacks.
“There will be other attacks and there will be other innocent people killed,” Valls told French lawmakers ahead of their decision, adding that 16 attacks had been foiled in France since 2012. “We must not become accustomed to, but learn to live with, this threat.”
The Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also vigorously defended the fourth extension of the state of emergency as a “tool” in the fight against terrorism, powers of which allowed for 44 arrests since early May “for conspiracy to commit a terrorist enterprise” during the Euro 2016 football tournament.
But the push to extend the emergency powers also faced opposition with many arguing that more police power would infringe on civil liberties in France.
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