17:31 GMT +321 May 2019
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    Soldiers patrol outside the Saint-Sernin basilica as part of the Operation sentinelle, on December 31, 2015 in Toulouse.

    Human Rights Groups Call for Curbs to Excessive Counterterror Powers

    © AFP 2019 / Remy Gabalda
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    Human rights organizations have issued a joint statement calling on the EU and its Member States to respect human rights and the rule of law in counterterrorism measures, alarmed at the increasing use of emergency powers and mass surveillance.

    European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Amnesty International, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and eleven other human rights groups have said that the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere — and the assertion by States that there is an elevated terrorist threat in the European Union — have led to a new set of counterterrorism measures at both EU and national levels.

    "These counterterrorism measures must always comply with the rule of law and human rights obligations under European Union and international law. While there is a need to ensure the population is safe, security measures should not lead to violations or restrictions on human rights," the groups said. 

    Basic Freedoms v Public Security

    There has been a backlash in France against the extension of emergency powers, giving the law enforcement agencies the right to search and detain, together with the right to prevent gatherings of people. Many believe this flies in the face of the fundamental principles of "Liberty, legality, fraternity".

    In the UK, meanwhile, lawmakers are examining the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill that would allow its intelligence services and police extensive powers of data retention. UK Home Secretary Theresa May has said the powers are needed in the light of increased terror threats.

    "Law itself requires that states must take appropriate measures to prevent and respond to acts of terrorism, in order to ensure the security and safety of the people in their territories."

    "Counterterrorism measures must always comply with the rule of law and human rights obligations under European Union and international law," the human rights groups said.

    "Any person arrested or deprived of their liberty, including by administrative detention, must have prompt access to judicial review of detention, and regular judicial review thereafter. All detainees at all times have the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention through judicial proceedings. They have a right to prompt and regular access to a lawyer, and the right to inform their family of their detention," the groups said.


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    liberty, terror threat, high alert, terrorism, human rights, counterterrorism, Paris Attacks, European Union, Europe
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