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France

    August 25, 2016

    Failure to overturn the ban on the burkini would be a missed opportunity to end an assault on women’s freedoms of expression and religion as well as the right to non-discrimination, said Amnesty International as France’s highest administrative court considers a challenge to the ban.

    “The case being considered today offers an opportunity for the French justice system to overturn a discriminatory ban that is fuelled by and is fuelling prejudice and intolerance,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    “French authorities should drop the pretence that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women. Rather, invasive and discriminatory measures such as these restrict women’s choices, violate their rights and lead to abuse.”

    July 15, 2016

    Amnesty International utterly condemns the despicable attack in Nice last night, which has left over 80 dead and many more injured. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which President Hollande has described as being of a “terrorist nature”.

    Amnesty International’s Europe Director, John Dalhuisen said: “We are all deeply shocked by the appalling attack in Nice last night.  We grieve with those who lost loved ones, and stand united with those opposing terror with freedom, fairness and the respect for human rights.” 

    February 03, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  4 February 2016

    Heavy-handed emergency measures, including late night house raids and assigned residence orders, have trampled on the rights of hundreds of men, women and children, leaving them traumatized and stigmatized, according to a new briefing released by Amnesty International today ahead of Friday’s French parliamentary debate on entrenching emergency measures in the constitution. 

    Upturned lives: The disproportionate impact of France's state of emergency details how, since the state of emergency was declared shortly after the 13 November 2015 Paris attacks, more than 3,242 house searches have been conducted and more than 400 assigned residence orders imposed. Most of the 60 people Amnesty International interviewed said that harsh measures were applied with little or no explanation and sometimes excessive force. One woman said that armed police burst into her house late at night as she minded her three-year old child. Other people told Amnesty International that the stigma of being searched had caused them to lose their jobs.

    December 22, 2015

    Released 00:01 GMT on Tuesday 22 December 2015

    A proposed change to France’s Constitution would put many people at even greater risk of human rights violations by giving security services carte blanche to close down organizations, conduct unwarranted house raids, shut down mosques and restrict people’s freedom of movement, said Amnesty International.

    The amendment, which if approved as an official government proposal by the French Council of Ministers during discussions set for tomorrow, would allow authorities to continue using state of emergency measures for a further six months after the end of a state of emergency.

    Under the current state of emergency, authorities have carried out 2,700 house searches without warrant and imposed assigned residency on hundreds of people, restricting their freedom of movement, since the November 13 Paris attacks.

    November 19, 2015

    The emergency measures being rushed through the French Parliament in the wake of the horrific Paris attacks to counter must not become a permanent fixture in France’s anti-terror arsenal, Amnesty International warned today.

    “Right now the protection of the population from further imminent attack is rightly the number one priority. But the emergency powers currently being rushed through parliament provide for a sweeping extension of executive powers at the expense of essential human rights safeguards.  They must be used only when strictly necessary and should not become a permanent addition to France’s anti-terror arsenal,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of Europe and Central Asia.

    The 12-day state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the 13 November attacks provided for a range of additional police powers.  The bill proposed yesterday extends the state of emergency for a further three months and includes a number of additional measures.

    September 30, 2015

    French parliamentarians must reject a new bill allowing mass surveillance of communications “sent or received abroad” as it would give the government sweeping legal authority to intercept the electronic communications of millions of people without judicial authorization, Amnesty International said today.

    The draft bill, which the National Assembly will take up on 1 October, revives efforts previously struck down by the Constitutional Council in its review of the 24 July 2015 French Surveillance Bill. 

    “Under this new law, almost all internet communications will be considered fair game by the French authorities, without any form of meaningful checks and balance. Allowing for such extensive, intrusive and indiscriminate mass surveillance is a flagrant violation of people’s right to privacy and freedom of speech,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Deputy Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    July 24, 2015

    Extensive powers allowing French authorities to monitor people online and offline will come into force in a matter of days after the country’s highest constitutional authority endorsed all but three sections of a new surveillance law, Amnesty International said today.

    The French government rushed the Intelligence Bill through parliament in the wake of the Paris attacks earlier this year, turning a deaf ear to strong opposition from rights groups, judges, tech companies, trade unions, lawyers and parliamentarians, as well as criticism from international human rights bodies.

    “Last night’s decision clears the last hurdle for a law that will deal a major blow to human rights in France. The surveillance measures authorized by this law are wildly out of proportion. Large swathes of France’s population could soon find themselves under surveillance on obscure grounds and without prior judicial approval,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    May 04, 2015

    France is about to take one step closer to becoming a “surveillance state” with a new bill up for a first vote on May 5th dramatically expanding the government’s power to spy on what people do online and offline.

    The authorities claim the bill is needed to better prevent terrorism and “any form of foreign interference” and promote “essential foreign policy interests”. However, the overly generic definitions are likely to leave the door open to abuse.

    Here are some of the things the French authorities will be able to do without first obtaining authorization from a judge.

    Possibly intercept all your online communications
    French authorities could be able to secretly look at the emails people send, the information they store in the cloud, their confidential online records, including medical appointments and the searches they do on engines such as Google.

    May 03, 2015

    Released 4 May 2015 00.01 GMT

    French authorities will be handed extensive powers to monitor people online and offline if the National Assembly votes to pass a new surveillance bill tomorrow, Amnesty International warned.

    The organization said the prime minister’s sign-off without court approval did not provide adequate checks and balances.

    “This bill would take France a step closer to a surveillance state where nothing is secret except the surveillance itself. Even journalists, judges, politicians and people who have unwittingly come into contact with alleged suspects could be subject to invasive surveillance,” said Gauri van Gulik, deputy director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “French authorities could soon be bugging peoples’ homes, cars and phone lines without approval from a judge, even where there is no reasonable suspicion that they have done anything wrong.”

    January 16, 2015

    A string of at least 69 arrests in France this week on the vague charge of “defending terrorism” (“l’apologie du terrorisme”) risks violating freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    All the arrests appear to be on the basis of statements made in the aftermath of the deadly attacks against the magazine Charlie Hebdo, a kosher supermarket and security forces in Paris on 7 and 9 January.

    “In a week in which world leaders and millions around the world have spoken out in defence of freedom of expression, the French authorities must be careful not to violate this right themselves,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “How the French authorities act in the aftermath of the horrific killings is the litmus test for its commitment to human rights for all.”

    January 07, 2015

    This morning’s deadly attack by gunmen on the Paris office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo is a chilling assault on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    The attack, allegedly carried out by masked gunmen who fled the scene after engaging in a gunfight with police, reportedly left 12 people dead and several more wounded at the newspaper’s office.

    "This is a dark day for freedom of expression and a vibrant press culture. But above all, it is an appalling human tragedy,” said Stephan Oberreit, Director of Amnesty International France.

    “It is an atrocity that sought to kill journalists, suppress freedom of expression and sow fear. It must be utterly condemned and the French authorities must ensure all those responsible are brought to justice in a fair trial. Journalists under threat must be protected and allowed to carry out their work without fear of deadly violence.”

    Charlie Hebdo, a weekly satirical newspaper based in Paris, has faced controversy in the past for its publication of cartoons deemed to be insulting to Islam.

    October 24, 2014

    The decision to authorize the extradition to Russia of Kazakhstani banker and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov by the Lyon Court of Appeal (France) has set in motion a procedure that may eventually see him forcibly returned to Kazakhstan, where he is wanted on fraud charges, Amnesty International said today.

    “If extradited, Mukhtar Ablyazov will face serious human rights violations. Not only do we have fears that Ablyazov would not get a fair trial in Russia, there is the real danger that he will eventually end up in Kazakhstan, where he will be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    “Russian security services collaborate routinely with the security apparatus in Kazakhstan. The French authorities must not send Ablyazov to any country where he could be threatened with onward transfer to Kazakhstan."

    October 20, 2014

    Dozens of families will be left homeless if French authorities go ahead with the forced eviction of a Roma camp in a Paris suburb this week, Amnesty International warned today.

    More than 200 Roma living in an informal settlement near Bobigny will be forcibly evicted from their homes within the next 48 hours, but many have not have been offered alternative housing.

    “This forced eviction would leave families – including children, the sick and the elderly – living on the streets, deprived of their human rights,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “The French authorities must halt the forced eviction until they can offer suitable alternative housing solutions that have been accepted by the Roma community after proper consultation.”

    According to international human rights standards, evictions should not render people homeless or vulnerable to other human rights violations.

    June 17, 2014

    The apparent lynching of a Roma teenager in a Paris suburb that left him in a coma is just one of several recent alleged hate crimes against minorities that demand thorough investigations and not just condemnation by the French authorities, Amnesty International warned.

    Instead, the authorities have been focusing their resources on carrying out forced evictions that crack down on Roma and other minority communities, as well as migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers.

    “By failing to bat an eyelid in the face of alleged hate crimes, the French authorities are incubating a climate of fear that will spawn more such vicious attacks. All those responsible must face thorough investigations and prosecutions that take into account any discriminatory motive behind the assaults,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    May 28, 2014

    Today's expulsion of an estimated 700 migrants and asylum-seekers from camps in northern France risks aggravating the health problems that the authorities say prompted the evictions, Amnesty International has said.

    French police this morning encircled the makeshift settlements occupied by migrants and asylum-seekers in the Calais area and began a process of dismantling them, justifying their actions as a response to a reported outbreak of scabies in the camps.

    "The French authorities seem to be using forced evictions as a solution to a healthcare emergency, which risks causing more problems than it solves. It is unclear where those evicted will be able to find new homes and how they will access the necessary health-care treatment,” said Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program.

    “Evicting people is not the answer; a well-thought-out and appropriate health-care plan is what is needed. Sadly this isn’t new; the French authorities have a record of carrying out mass forced evictions without providing adequate alternatives for those evicted.”

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