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French lawmakers back 'anti-terrorism' bill

Bill imposes travel ban on those suspected of planning to take part in 'terrorist' activities, will now be considered by Senate

18.09.2014
French lawmakers back 'anti-terrorism' bill

PARIS

The lower house of France's National Assembly' accepted an "anti-terrorism" bill Thursday that aims to clamp down on French nationals traveling to fight in Syria, Iraq and other regions.

Of the parliamentary groups voting on the bill, just one abstained - France's ecologist group, arguing that several provisions jeopardize individual liberties.

For the bill to be passed into law, it now has to go to the French Senate who will rule on it in mid- October.

On Wednesday, French lawmakers approved a key article of the bill, a travel ban on French nationals suspected of going to fight in countries such as Syria or Iraq.

The law, submitted by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve in July, aims to deter French nationals from traveling to join groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, which has overrun large territories of both countries.

The ban, which is effective for at least six months and is renewable for up to two years, allows authorities to immediately confiscate the passport and identity card of a suspect - their names placed on the Schengen Information System used by European countries and transport companies and the possiblity of up to three years in prison and a €45,000 ($58,000) fine.

The ban can be imposed on French nationals when "there are serious reasons to believe that someone is planning to travel abroad to take part in terrorist activities, war crimes or crimes against humanity or in a theatre of operations of terrorist groups and in conditions likely to jeopardize public security upon their return to French territory" the law reads.

The bill also advocates targeting terrorism on the Internet with the possibility of an administrative blocking of websites that "glorify terrorism."

Minister of Interior Bernard Cazeneuve told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper last week that 930 French nationals had gone to Syria or Iraq to fight with militant groups.

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