By Hajer M'tiri
France’s parliament on Wednesday passed a controversial anti-terror and security law, slammed by human rights advocates as a threat to civil liberties.
The bill, which gives authorities vastly expanded powers to search homes, restrict movement, and close places of worship, is set to replace the state of emergency, due to conclude on Nov. 1.
The bill was passed by the Senate with amendments by a vote of 244-22 after being approved at the beginning of the month by the lower house of parliament.
Rights groups and international platforms, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), fear the new law, which grants police exceptional powers, will create a permanent quasi-state of emergency in the country.
Under the new law, police could carry out house raids and searches without a warrant or judicial oversight, including at night. It also gives officials extra powers to skip usual judicial processes and place people under house arrest.
The bill also allows for restrictions on gatherings and closing places of worship.
French President Emmanuel Macron earlier on Wednesday said that 13 terrorist operations have been foiled since the beginning of 2017. He defended the new security law, saying it was needed to tackle the changing threat of terrorism.
Addressing some 500 security officers, including police, gendarmes, prefects, and other officials at the Elysee Palace, the French leader vowed to toughen procedures for expelling illegal immigrants who commit crimes.
Macron also announced that a new national plan to counter radicalization will be unveiled in December.
Despite the repeatedly extended state of emergency since the November 2015 terrorist attacks, France has been targeted by several deadly terror attacks over the last two years.