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France’s highest constitutional authority throws out terrorism security law
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France’s highest constitutional authority throws out terrorism security law

The French Constitutional Council, France’s highest constitutional authority, has rejected as unconstitutional legislation that included special parole conditions and electronic tracking for those who served prison terms for terrorist offenses. The Constitutional Council found Friday that the legislation unfairly discriminated against former detainees who had served full sentences.

The law prohibited former detainees from changing their home addresses or places of work without a judge’s permission, and they were required to sign-in at a local police station up to three times each week. In some cases, police could ask former detainees to wear electronic tracking bracelets. The legislation had just been given its final reading in front of the French parliament in July.

On Friday the council noted that terrorism does seriously disturb public order through intimidation and that combating terrorism is part of the constitutional value of preventing public order breaches. However, the council stated that “personal liberty cannot be hindered by a rigor which is not necessary.” Citizens cannot be deprived of basic human rights guaranteed under the French constitution.

The law imposed conditions based upon a regional court’s assessment of a detainee’s “particular dangerousness.” The legislation had to balance the prevention of public order breaches and constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms, which included the freedom of movement. The council noted that “no measure less prejudicial to the rights and freedoms constitutionally guaranteed is sufficient to prevent the commission of these acts.”

The Constitutional Council said that conditions and implementation had to be proportionate to the legislation’s goal, especially when a person has already served his full sentence. The legislation made it possible for the government to impose new obligations and prohibitions that affected the detainee’s freedom to move about, his or her right to respect for private life, and his or her right to lead a normal family life.

Because of this, the Constitutional Council found that the law was unconstitutional. The law will now have to be re-drafted and debated in its new form.