France: Controller-General concerned for the rule of law

The Islamist terror attacks that hit France in the last two years have plunged the country in a downward spiral which is contributing to the deterioration of the Rule of Law.

The need for the Hollande Government to react, the far-right opposition pressures and the attempt by the Government to reassure the public led to the proclamation of the State of Emergency in November 2015. The status was extended by Parliament until 15 July 2017, thus granting extraordinary powers to the Government and to law enforcement agencies, including the ability to conduct house search without the authorization of a magistrate.

According to report 2016-2017 by Amnesty International, the use of these powers disproportionately restricted the freedom of movement and the right to privacy. According to the UN Committee Against Torture it would be appropriate to investigate on the excessive use of force by police forces.

Various politicians and lawyers have voiced their concern about what is happening in France. Adeline Hazan, Controller-General for Places of Deprivation of Liberty (CGLPL) said in an interview published on 22 March 2017 that “there is a hierarchy between individual freedoms and the right to security, as if fundamental rights were a luxury to be suspended when times get tough. Hence, it becomes trivial to criticize an essential institution in a democracy, such as the European Court of Human Rights, implying that it would exert an interference in the actions of governments”.

Mrs. Hazan, who succeeded in 2014 to Jean-Marie Delarue (Marco Pannella met him in October 2013) as new Controller-General, concluded in her annual report that: “It is very tempting in troubled times to neglect the respect, protection and improvement of human rights. This road is dangerous. We must not give in and I will not give in”.

Vittorio Pecoraro

Read the original interview in French

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