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A/HRC/40/52/Add.4: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism - visit to France


08 May 2019

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The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, conducted an official visit to France from 14 to 23 May 2018 to assess the country’s counter-terrorism laws, policies and practices, measured against its international human rights obligations. She commends the constructive engagement by Government throughout the visit and underscores her awareness of and sensitivity to the ongoing violent challenges faced by France over many decades as well as contemporary terrorism challenges, including the return of French fighters from conflict zones.

She also commends France for its strong role in integrating human rights and international humanitarian law in global counter-terrorism practice and acknowledges its sustained regional and international leadership in the global challenge of countering terrorism.

France has deep experience in managing terrorism through a rule of law-based approach and a sustained commitment to upholding human rights obligations in its national practices. She particularly acknowledges the exceptional work undertaken and refined by France in respect of victims of terrorism and the legal framework supporting legal protection of and compensation to victims. France provides a model of outstanding positive practice in respect of victims of terrorism.

Despite many positive observations, the Special Rapporteur shares her views concerning several human rights challenges and offers recommendations, including on the state of emergency, new administrative measures, non-judicial and judicial oversight related to counter-terrorism measures, due process rights in the context of administrative measures, protection of freedom of expression and the crime of “apology for terrorism”, overly broad definitions of terrorism-related crimes, and concerns of racial and religious profiling in the anti-terrorism context which have profound effects on the enjoyment of rights by particular minorities and the human rights obligations due to citizens overseas. The Special Rapporteur’s recommendations include establishing a fully independent, adequately resourced expert oversight body to oversee the totality of counter-terrorism and national security powers operational in France; review of outstanding human rights violations emanating from the state of emergency to rebuild trust with individuals and communities; assessing the necessity of the SILT (Strengthening Internal Security and the Fight against Terrorism) law through the requirements of necessity, proportionality and discrimination; enhancing parliamentary oversight of terrorism and national security powers; providing consistent and transparent access to national security and terrorism data to enable oversight as well as engagement by civil society; addressing the gap in monitoring and evaluation of strategies to prevent violent extremism; and taking proactive measures to combat the negative, stereotyped and stigmatizing effects on the Muslim community in France.

Issued By:

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

Delivered To:

the Human Rights Council 40th session