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The changing face of counterterrorism in Britain and France

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Sydney Morning Herald

by Clive Williams

In the wake of terrorist attacks in France and England, both France and Britain are expected to toughen counterterrorism measures to try to contain the threat. France has lost 250 people to terrorist attacks since 2012, while Britain has suffered 35 victim deaths this year.

In France, President Emmanual Macron and his security council approved a draft bill to put to cabinet on June 21 that will make existing emergency powers permanent and enable the Interior Ministry – which runs the police and security service – to order house arrests and electronic bracelets for anyone regarded as a security threat. House arrest will be renewable every three months. (At the moment, under emergency powers, about 1000 people of interest are under house arrest.)

The draft bill also gives the police permanent powers to search property without judicial oversight and to close places of worship. Public gatherings can be banned and security zones imposed if police fear a threat to security or public order. Police will also have the power to require people persons to provide their social media passwords.

Human rights activists and the Le Monde newspaper condemned the draft bill, but the French public strongly favours keeping the emergency powers and is expected to support Macron's bill. For what it is worth – given the inaccuracy of political polls in recent years – Opinionway has Macron's party on course to win 370 to 400 seats in the 577-member parliament.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-changing-face-of-counterterrorism-in-britain-and-france-20170613-gwq4w8.html