The State of Emergency in concrete terms
Article source : "Ce que signifie concrètement l’état d’urgence", Rédaction de France Info
What impact is the State of Emergency having in France today? How does it affect public life, transport, and cultural and sporting events? On Saturday November 14, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve outlined the key aspects of the measure.
He began by paying tribute to the bravery and effectiveness of the emergency services, the police and security forces. “All of the country's security forces are on high alert, every police officer, gendarme, firefighter and soldier is committed to neutralising the terrorists and ensuring the French people's safety,” he said. “It is thanks to them that France is and will remain standing.”
Ban on demonstrations on the public highway
Cazeneuve pointed out that the State of Emergency was already in force throughout the French mainland. It entails, in certain cases, the right to limit the movement of people and vehicles in determined places and at determined times. Every local préfet thus has the option to set a curfew in the areas within their département that they consider to be at high risk of a breach of public order. They can also set security perimeters around public and private buildings that are likely to be threatened.
The State of Emergency also grants the ability to remove any individual from a specified area or from an entire département if they are trying to hinder the activities of the authorities. Préfets can also requisition services or goods if necessary for the sake of public order.
In designated areas they can also order the temporary closure of auditoriums, bars and various meeting venues, or forbid any demonstration that might pose a risk for its participants.
In central Paris and all neighbouring départements, for example, the police commissioner decided to ban all protests on the public highway until Thursday November 19 2015. A similar decision was taken by the préfets of the surrounding départements during the same week.
Stricter border controls
The inter-ministerial crisis committee sat throughout the night of November 13 in the premises of the Ministry of the Interior. An operational general staff was also meeting twice a day to manage all measures that fall within the ministry's remit. The interior minister announced an increase in the number of police and gendarmes on duty. Border controls have also been reinstated since November 13. France’s 61 main authorised border crossing points were subject to particularly strict controls by border police and customs officers in the wake of the attacks. Other unofficial crossing points are still being controlled by staff from various other national security forces, including the riot squad and the gendarmerie.
Checks on people travelling to France from abroad by train or plane have also been intensified, as have roadside checks. The ports are subject to special security measures, and security at the international train stations in Paris has been bolstered by police commanders.
Additional security forces throughout the territory
The ranks of the Gendarmerie have been reinforced, with 230 additional officers at the police commissioner's disposal. Two sections of the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group have been redeployed. The army also provided 1,000 extra soldiers, mainly in the Paris region to patrol the streets of the capital.
These reinforcements are intended to support the 30,000 police officers, gendarmes and soldiers who have, for the past few months, been assigned to the protection of 5,000 sensitive areas throughout France, as part of the Vigipirate security plan, Cazeneuve explained. The intelligence services are also on high alert, and all of the specialist emergency response units are ready to intervene in case of emergency (chemical or radioactive hazard teams, bomb disposal units etc.).
The State of Emergency was initially declared for a period of 12 days, by presidential decree. It was then ratified by act of parliament on November 20, setting a deadline for renewal on February 26 2016. After strong campaigning by President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls, the deadline was once again extended until May 26 by a parliamentary vote on February 16 (ed.).
Translated by Marie Luquet and Mélanie Geffroy
Editing by Sam Trainor
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