France: President Macron approves controversial anti-terror law
French President Emmanuel Macron has formally approved a new counter terrorism law giving sweeping powers to law enforcement authorities. The law has been signed just in time to stand in for the two-year old state of emergency which expires this week. The bill had been adopted earlier this month after a large majority of the French parliament backed it. Here's more about it.
France declared emergency on security grounds after the November 2015 Paris terror attacks. It has been extended six times since then. Under the emergency, the authorities have reportedly shut down 11 places of worship and kept atleast 41 people under house arrest for extremist links.
The law provides enforcement authorities with greater powers to conduct searches, close down religious institutions and restrict movements of people suspected of having extremist links. The law would also empower the agencies to establish extra-security measures in high-threat areas such as Christmas markets. Additionally, it expands the scope of personal identification/verification to a 10-km radius around railway stations and airports.
Human rights groups have slammed the bill as the government's attempt to make the emergency permanent. They have also expressed concerns that the law could infringe upon citizens' right to liberty and freedom of religion.