Paris (AP) – France wants to step up the fight against terror a few days after a deadly attack on a police officer.
The government in Paris launched a bill on Wednesday that should, among other things, facilitate tracing potential perpetrators via the internet. “The Islamist threat remains very high,” Prime Minister Jean Castex warned after the government meeting chaired by President Emmanuel Macron. The state and the judiciary should be given more resources.
Last Friday, another police officer near Paris was murdered by an attacker. “Stépahnie Monfermé (…) was brutally murdered by an Islamic terrorist in front of her police station in Rambouillet,” said Castex. “Stéphanie Monfermé and Samuel Paty – both civil servants – are attacking the republic.” Teacher Paty was beheaded by an Islamist last fall and the case caused international horror.
The bill of the Ministry of the Interior and Justice, which has since been passed by the government, has been in preparation for some time. Castex stressed that the text was not a response to the attack on the police officer. He also said the profile of the terrorists has recently changed. Increasingly, it concerns individual perpetrators who do not necessarily belong to an organized terror network and are unknown to the secret services. The authorities should respond to this.
In concrete terms, it should now be possible to better track perpetrators online. This should be done, for example, using algorithms that allow connections to be processed automatically. The technology will also be expanded to include web addresses. It’s about keeping up with new technologies, said Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. Terrorists rarely use SMS or normal telephone lines, but rely on encrypted messengers, for example.
The government plans are controversial among data protection activists. The government is accused of restricting the rights of freedom with the new regulations. Darmanin emphasized that the text contains guarantees to prevent abuse.
The draft also provides for tougher requirements for people who have spent time in prison for terrorist offenses. You may be imposed certain obligations. According to Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, less than 100 prisoners are affected in France. The authorities should also be given a freer hand in the home searches of suspects. The closure of places of worship suspected of supporting terrorism could be extended to other buildings.
The bill is now being debated in parliament, which should give the green light for tightening. France has been rocked by Islamic terrorism for years. According to the government, 36 attacks have been thwarted in the country since 2017. The government has repeatedly been accused of being too lax in the fight against terrorism.