France proposes anti-terrorist changes to constitution

PARIS,  The French government proposed a constitutional amendment allowing some natural-born citizens to lose their citizenship if convicted of terrorism.

Police patrol the Eiffel Tower in Paris on November 15, 2015. Major monuments remained closed and security enhanced two days after the city was struck by a series of coordinated attacks that claimed at least 120 lives. On December 23, 2015 the French government unveiled plans for constitutional amendments regarding citizenship and increased police powers. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo
Police patrol the Eiffel Tower in Paris on November 15, 2015. Major monuments remained closed and security enhanced two days after the city was struck by a series of coordinated attacks that claimed at least 120 lives. On December 23, 2015 the French government unveiled plans for constitutional amendments regarding citizenship and increased police powers. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another proposed amendment calls for state-of-emergency police powers to be protected from court challenges, allowing searches without warrants and permitting house arrests. The expansion of power is France’s reaction to 2015 terrorist attacks at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Ebdo in January, aboard a train to Paris in August and a night of terror in Paris that left 130 people dead in November.

Under rules expected to be considered by the French legislature in February, dual citizens born in France and found guilty of terrorist offenses could have their French nationality removed. Currently, only naturalized French citizens can be stripped of their citizenship, and many French citizens remain citizens of Algeria, Morocco and other African countries formerly under French control. The new proposals would also allow police to operate under rights now granted only by a state of emergency.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France is involved in an “unparalleled extraordinary fight, an unprecedented fight” against terrorism.

French military involvement in the fight against the Isis, the European Union’s liberal policies regarding the crossing of borders and the perception that France has not adequately integrated its Muslim minority, leading to alienation among younger Muslims, are factors in the country’s reaction to terrorism on its soil.

Lawmakers and officials have suggested France went to war with the Islamic State without preparing or protecting its home front.

“The French are just waking up to the fact that we, more than others, are a country at war,” said Alain Marsaud, a center-right legislator.

France has traditionally regarded itself as a beacon of human rights, and the sweeping constitutional changes are expected to meet resistance in the legislature. Divisions have already emerged between political parties and within the ruling Socialist party of President François Hollande, whose government proposed the changes.

By Ed Adamczyk

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