French anti-terrorism law not anti-constitutional

By EDRi · February 2, 2006

The French constitutional council judged on 19 January 2006, that
the new national anti-terrorism law, submitted by the French Senators, was
not anti-constitutional.

The Senators were particularly concerned with two provisions of this
law. The first one was the provision allowing the police to obtain
communication data without any judicial order, in order to “prevent and
punish” acts of terrorism (article 6). The constitutional council only
found necessary to remove the word “punish” from the article, otherwise
considering the article in compliance with constitution, arguing that
prevention is indeed the role of police forces, and finding that enough
safeguards were already provided by this article.

The second one was the provision allowing the police to automatically
monitor cars on French roads and highways, taking picture of licence
plates and people in the cars, with various purposes ranging from the
fight against terrorism to the identification of stolen cars (article
8). The same article also provides for the monitoring of street people
gathering during “big events”. Again, the constitutional council has
not found any constitutional problem with this provision.

This new French anti-terrorism law also provides, in its article 7,
that the ministry of interior may process PNR (passenger name record)
data collected on any travel by air, sea or rail to or from non-EU
countries. The constitutionality of this provision has not been
challenged. This article has the claimed objective “to improve border
controls and to fight against illegal immigration”. With this
anti-terror law, and under the alibi of the fight against terrorism,
France is then directly targeting immigrants and even foreigner
residents, especially those from North Africa, since they regularly
travel by sea to spend holidays at home. France is now the first EU
country to follow the example of the US unilateral decision imposing
the transfer of PNR data to US customs and border control authorities,
as analysed by French EDRI member IRIS.

French constitutional council decision (only French, 19.01.2006)

IRIS press release (only French, 05.12.2006)

EDRI-gram 4.1: France adopts anti-terrorism law (18.01.2006)

(Contribution by Meryem Marzouki, EDRI-member IRIS – France)