French Bill on the State of Emergency/Analysis
See the legislative folder (fr) on the website of the French National Assembly.
- 1 Article 1
- 2 Modification of the article 6 - House arrest
- 3 New article 6.1 - Dissolution of associations or de facto groups
- 4 Modification of article 11 - Police search including data processing systems
- 5 Modification of article 13 - Increased sentences
- 6 Article 5 of the bill - Modification of the French Surveillance Law
- 7 Analysis of the amendments adopted in the Law Committee
- 7.1 Article 1 - Extension of 3 months
- 7.2 Article 2 and 3
- 7.3 Article 4
- 7.4 Article 5
- 7.5 Article 6
- 8 Amendments adopted in the lower chamber
3 months extension without justification
Modification of the article 6 - House arrest
In the current law, house arrest must be done in a ward or place of any resident of the zone currently under state of emergency. The bill says that house arrests must be decided in "set locations" by the minister of the Interior. The formulation is vague and allows to define a place (district, ward or other).
Moreover, house arrest in the law can only be decided for people whom "activity is proven to be dangerous of the security and the public order". The bill provides to apply this on people for whom "exists serious reasons to think that the behaviour constitutes a threat for the security and public order".
- No definition of "serious reasons". The impact study explains that targeted individuals are those who "called the attention of the police or intelligence services by their behaviour or their attendance, statements or projects."
- To prevent a threat, this threat must not be necessarily serious but solely targeting security and public order.
This proposal is very vague and could put in house arrest a large number or people who are under surveillance (through algorithmic surveillance, for example) and who could be innocent. Moreover, the scope is extremely wide and doesn't apply only to terrorism but could apply to gathering, for instance.
New proposals are also introduced on the modalities of house arrest: police escort, scheduled checking, handing of identity documents.
The provisions on house arrest end with the end of the state of emergency.
New article 6.1 - Dissolution of associations or de facto groups
The bill introduces a new article allowing the administrative dissolution of de facto groups (at least 2 individuals) under 2 cumulative conditions:
- those associations or de facto groups must participate to "the realisation of actions jeopardising seriously public order or whom activities allow or push to this realisation".
- and which "include within or among their regular relations" people in house arrest.
Through an amendment (see hereunder), the 2nd condition is deleted, it is only needed that an association or a group meets the 1st condition to be potentially dissolved.
The impact study indicates clearly that the goal is to charge the behaviour of few members to the whole association. Though, it clarifies the targeted associations, those "through law or de facto, on a logistical basis or recruiting centre for activities being a serious threat to public order of public security." The wording of the article remains vague and could target a very large number of associations (political or other).
It is important to see that the proposal of dissolution of association or de facto group does not end at the end of the state of emergency. This mean that any organisation being dissolved under those exceptional condition would have the interdiction to be recreate at the end of the state of emergency. Considering the blurriness around those dissolution condition, this disposition is particularly dangerous.
Modification of article 11 - Police search including data processing systems
The bill presents an improvement by protecting the workplace of protected professing (parliamentary mandate, professional activity of lawyers, magistrates and journalists). Though, it must be the workplace not the residence. If the data processing system is considered to be an extension of the workplace, it is nevertheless possible that many use the same systems for professional and personal reasons. Thus, it is necessary to penetrate those systems to determine the professional or personal nature of the systems or terminals.
Moreover, the bill forces to inform the public prosecutor (procureur de la République) and forces the presence of an officer of judiciary police, as well as the presence of the proprietary (or two eye-witnesses). Those dispositions aren't in the current law.
However, those police search must take place in other places if there are "serious reasons to believe that the place is visited by a person whom behaviour constitutes a threat to security and public order". This wording is, again too vague and opens the possibility to police searches in numerous places (residence, organisation or companies...). It is not necessarily the residence of the targeted individual. The impact study targets among other things a vehicle but the law remains too vague.
Plus, police searches on data processing systems and terminal equipments present are now more precise. They can happen on any equipment, including storage present on the place or reachable "through a initial system or available for the initial system'. Such a proposal allows police searches of other networked computer and can bring to the search of a very large number of storage systems and equipments, of any digital social life and activity of an individual, regarding to what will be accessible from the initial equipments. Nothing is said on access (passwords...) and how they can be requested.
Modification of article 13 - Increased sentences
Current law allows the following sentences of the violation of article 5, 6? 8, 9 and 11 (2°)
- From 8 days to 2 months of detention
- From 11 to 3 750 Euro penalty
- one of the two sentences only
There is a substantial increase in the bill:
- violation of articles 5, 8 and 9:
- 6 months of detention
- 7500 Euro penalty
- violation of dispositions of the first paragraph of article 6:
- 3 years of detention
- 45 000 Euro penalty
- violation of paragraphs 2 and 4 of article 6:
- 1 year of detention
- 15 000 Euro penalty
- Article 5: interdiction the circulation of individuals or vehicles, regulation and interdiction of residence
- Article 6 (1st paragraph): house arrest
- Article 6 (2nd paragraph): house arrest in a designated place (max 8 hours a day)
- Article 6 (4th paragraph): scheduled checking, handing of passport, interdiction of relation with previously designated persons
- Article 8: closing performance venues, liquor licenses etc. Interdiction of meetings
- Article 9: handing of guns
- Article 11 (2nd paragraph): control of the press and publications, radio shows, cinematographic projections, theatrical performance. This disposition was deleted from the Bill.
Article 5 of the bill - Modification of the French Surveillance Law
article L.811-3 of the Interior Security Code allows in its paragraph 5b, the implementation of intelligence techniques for the "prevention of action regarding the conservation of the reconstitution of dissolved groups in application of the article the article L. 212-1". The article 212-1 targets armed or combat groups but also groups that:
- provoke armed demonstration in the street;
- aim to infringe the integrity of the territory;
- glorify the collaboration with the enemy;
- push to actions of hatred toward people regarding their origin, ethnicity, race or religion;
- push to terrorism acts.
The bill on state of emergency wants to modify this article in order to allow the application of intelligence techniques for the prevention of groups dissolved during the state of emergency. It is a huge scope for intelligence techniques.
Analysis of the amendments adopted in the Law Committee
Article 1 - Extension of 3 months
Article adopted without amendment.
Article 2 and 3
Articles adopted without amendments.
-  amendment allowing the information of the Parliament on the actions undertaken by the Government during the state of emergency. Opens the door (without further precisions) to a control of the actions.
1° House arrest
2° Obligations of individuals under house arrest
-  in case of seizure of identity papers (identity card and passport), the issuance of a waybill to justify one's identity.
3° Dissolution of associations and groups
-  Deletion of the necessity to have a member or a person close to an association or a group under house arrest to request the dissolution of an association or a group. It is not sufficient to be an association or a group "participating to the realisation of actions jeopardising seriously public order, or which activities facilitate or push to this realisation" to be dissolved (without a possibility to reform after the state of emergency).
4° Control of the administrative judge
-  Possibility for individuals or goods to be seized (c.f. Defence Code)
5° Police searches =
-  Writing of a report by the officer of judiciary police during the discovering of an infraction during police searches, which allows seizing.
6° Applicable penalties
Adopted without amendment.
Amendments adopted in the lower chamber
Extension to the state of emergency to French ultramarine territories 
- Extension of the duration of house arrest to 12 hours/day 
- Conservation of the disposition forbidding to be in relation with someone after the end of the state of emergency 
- Possibility to place under electronic surveillance (electronic bracelet) people under house arrest 
- Use of surveillance techniques if dissolved associations or groups keep existing or are recreated. - This amendment replaces article 5.
- Administrative blockade of websites (causing or advertising acts of terrorism) without delay under the order of the Interior Minister