By Fatih Erel
A UN human rights expert on Friday raised concerns about possible effects of France's new anti-terrorism laws on fundamental human rights, especially for the country's Muslims.
"These laws may disproportionately affect, stigmatize and further marginalize citizens of the Muslim faith," said Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN's special rapporteur on the protection of human rights while countering terrorism.
In a statement, she called the French government to devise an independent body to "oversee counter-terrorism and exceptional national security powers in the country".
Her report follows a nine-day visit to the country from May 14 to 23.
France’s new anti-terrorism legislation entered into force on November 1, 2017, formally ending a state of emergency that had lasted almost two years after the Paris attacks.
The law which gives authorities vastly expanded powers to search homes, restrict movement, and close places of worship, is set to replace the state of emergency.
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.
"It is clear that the French Muslim community has been the community primarily subject to exceptional measures both during the state of emergency and the new law in tandem with other counter-terrorism measures," she said, underlining the closure of mosques as an encroachment on exercising religious freedoms.
"It is deeply concerning that the Muslim minority community is being constructed as a per se ‘suspect community’ through the sustained and broad application of a counter-terrorism law,” she said.
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