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French immigrants, rights groups question use of emergency laws

[JURIST] French immigrant communities and rights groups are criticizing the French government's decision to impose emergency laws [decree, PDF; JURIST report] in efforts to restore order after two weeks of rioting. The 1955 state of emergency law [JURIST document] was initially created to cope with a rebellion in Algeria, then a French colony, and the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples said the decision to reactivate the law "revives the wounds of violence and humiliation" of the past. In addition to imposing curfews and allowing police to place people under "house arrest," French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile, in French] has ordered that all foreigners convicted of taking part in the riots be immediately deported [JURIST report], even those who were not in France illegally. Amnesty International [advocacy website] has denounced the decision [statement], saying that the measure is discriminatory and possibly violates the European Convention on Human Rights [text]. Amnesty also expressed concern that "those threatened with expulsion may be denied access to a fair and public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal to present their case against the executive decision." AP has more.

Meanwhile, Parisian police are on high alert Friday as France enters the Armistice Day [Wikipedia backgrounder] holiday weekend. The violence has subsided a bit since French President Jacques Chirac [official biography; BBC profile] ordered curfews earlier this week, but the number of vehicles set on fire in the neighborhoods directly around Paris increased Thursday night. Reuters has more.

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