State Council rules burkini ban ‘a serious violation of fundamental freedoms’

The State Council has suspended the burkini ban in Villeneuve-Loubet (Alpes-Maritimes) in a much-anticipated ruling.

“The judge of the State Council concludes that article 4.3 of the disputed decree represents a serious and illegal violation of fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of movement, freedom of conscience, and personal freedom,” the State Council wrote in its press statement. “As the urgent situation requires, it cancels the order of the judge of the administrative court of Nice,” which validated the decree, “and orders the article’s suspension.”

The judge wrote that if “the mayor is responsible for the local police,” he “must reconcile his mission’s goal to maintain public order with respect for freedoms guaranteed by the law.” The restriction of these freedoms should therefore be “adequate, necessary and proportionate to the need for public order.” But in Villeneuve-Loubet, “no element produced before [the Council] showed that risks to public order occurred, on public beaches…regarding the dress worn by certain persons.”

This decision is a victory for the opponents of the burkini ban decrees, which judged that the items of clothing were not “respectful of morality and of secularism” and even allowed police in Nice and Cannes to ticket women wearing a simple veil.

Bernard Cazeneuve presents his plan for “anti-jihad” law

July 9, 2014

Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve presented his “anti-jihad” bill that contains proposals to stop jihad, notably measures to prevent individuals from leaving France to fight in Syria even if they are over the age of 18. Such measures could affect over 200 individuals. The bill would “reinforce the provisions relating to the fight against terrorism.”

The law’s 18 articles include a sanction for up to six months that prohibits suspects from leaving French territory, which can be renewed by the state at will. The suspects could have their passports confiscated. To deter minors from leaving, parents can request that their child’s name be placed on a list that will be available to authorities throughout Europe. The law also proposes an addition to the penal code to include “the diffusion of provisions needed to construct engines of destruction.”

Other aspects of the law include an increased fight against terrorist sites on the Internet, including blocked access to such sites.

Anti-Terrorism bill: a departure from the principle of justice

July 10, 2014

Several aspects of the recent “anti-jihad” law, presented July 9 to the Council of Ministers, were judged unconstitutional by the Alain Jakubowicz, president of LICRA (International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism.) He declared: “Without objective evidence of the intention of a criminal act or without proof of deliberately planning to commit one” it would be “extremely complicated” to prevent someone from leaving France on the grounds that they are suspected of committing an act of terrorism. “How can one consider for a single second to restrict an individual’s freedom of movement based on suspicion?” asked Jakubowicz. “Honestly, it’s constitutionally impossible.

The bill, primarily aimed at preventing Frenchmen from leaving to fight in Syria, was called an “infringement even of the principle of justice.” “We would find ourselves in the situation where intelligence services, the Minister of the Interior, the administration, would say to the judges: ‘Believe me, I’m telling you that this person is dangerous,’” stated Jakubowicz.

The president of LICRA said that the government must also “reflect on its measures to prevent jihadists from coming back.” When asked about the possibility of Internet shutdowns of sites that glorify terrorism, the president said the problem was “more nuanced.” He spoke of the “risk of opening Pandora’s box and the direct threat to freedom of expression.”