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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La loi Cazeneuve "antiterroriste" est liberticide

by Yann Le Pollotec

The Cazeneuve "Anti-terrorist" Bill : Freedom, not Terrorists In Peril

Translated Sunday 28 September 2014, by Isabelle Métral

In charge of the "digital revolution" sector for the French Communist Party, Yann Le Polletec analyses the recent Cazeneuve bill on the prevention of terrorism that passed its first reading before the French National Assembly on September 18th.
This article was published in the “Communistes” supplement to l’Humanité dated Wednesday, September 24. The bill has been severely criticized by the other component parties of the Front de gauche and French human rights associations..

Document attached :
(fichier du scan de l’article en page IV)
Taking advantage of the situation in Mali, Libya, Iraq and Syria, of the fact that a number of French people have enlisted in DAESH, and of the murderous attacks of individuals like Mehdi Nemmouche and Mohamed Merah, the French government is pushing through Parliament a bill that is supposed to prevent future terrorist threats.

Lobbyists for security industries have been frantically trying to brainwash the media and deputies in favour of this bill. French people are scared into believing that they are under the threat of an unparalleled, general and massive series of terrorist attacks, and that this law is necessary to protect their country. This terrorist offensive is said to have enlisted thousands of young French people converted to Jihad through a radical campaign on social networks and “Islamic web sites”.

In fact, this Emergency or Anti-Terrorist bill designates an enemy within our borders and violates the rule of law by questioning the presumption of innocence, setting out the foundations for a general digital spying on the French population, and by curbing freedom of expression and communication, notably on the web.

Because the economic and social situation in Europe and France is disastrous, the idea, with this law, is to instill fear, to designate scapegoats and provide legal means of censorship and espionage, should significant movements of social protest develop.
The bill is especially detrimental to digital liberty. It targets the internet more than terrorism, as the internet is accused of being the main vector for terrorist radicalization. By designating the internet as a no-rights zone that must be brought to heel, the government once more proves ignorant of what the digital world truly is (…). If the government truly wants to put an end to enlistment in terrorist networks, rather than close websites, it should shut down prisons and reinforce youth judicial protection services.

French law already provides for the legal fight against terrorism

Making no exception for the press relative to the “crime of apology for terrorism”, and creating the new crime of regularly visiting “terrorist sites”, giving the administration the right, without any judicial ruling, to censure internet sites that promote terrorism – these are some of the provisions in the bill that are most fatal to liberty. Blocking sites on account of their contents involves, for internet service providers (ISP) to act efficiently, their setting up a systematic inspection of surfers’ requests and so organizing the surfers’ global surveillance. Besides, it is of little use to block those sites as 80% of the contents targeted by the bill are circulated on platforms like Face-book, Twitter, and Youtube.

Near the end of the bill are to be found provisions that concern all of the judicial procedures, not only terrorism, and undermine the inviolability of a person’s home. Also targeted is the confidentiality of sources, by allowing, without any judicial warrant, the tele-searching of computer equipment, or calling upon professionals to break encrypted data. A summary “administrative” justice would be substituted for normal judicial procedures, without any possible counter-power. All NATO countries have set up similar laws, which is a measure of the French government’s submission to NATO policies.

Of course terrorist acts and their perpetrators should not be connived with. But we are forced to recognize that the word “terrorist” corresponds to no clear and firm judicial concept and that it can thus allow for all kinds of insidious offences against human rights and liberties. The lamentable Tarnac case [1] is a blatant instance of such abuse. “Terrorists” was the name branded on the résistants on the Affiche Rouge [2], as well as on Mandela, Yasser Arafat, Gerry Adams, the leaders of anti-colonialist movements and national liberation. The “official” lists of terrorist organizations drawn up by the EU and the US amalgamate authentic terrorist groups with political movements that fight against authoritarian or dictatorial régimes. And indeed on that basis, the French police did arrest and deliver up to the Turkish police political activists of the Kurdish cause. The Cazeneuve bill is useless because France already has the necessary legal disposition to oppose terrorism.

If the prevention and repression of terrorism do fall within the competence of the State, their instrumental use to justify the curbing of the freedom of expression, communication, and setting up of the French population’s digital surveillance is not to be tolerated.

That is why this bill must be categorically opposed, as being as useless in the fight against terrorism as it is detrimental to our fellow-citizens’ digital liberty.

[1A small group of Anarchist militants living on a farm in the village of Tarnac was falsely accused in 2009 of sabotaging a railway-track. Incidentally, it later appeared they had been infiltrated by an English secret agent.

[2An infamous bill, portraying 23 members of the Manouchian network of the FTP-MOI (immigrant labour) résistance branch, and denouncing them as a band of criminals masquerading as liberators. They were sentenced to death and executed in February, 1944. Louis Aragon’s poem entitled “L’affiche rouge” was put to music and sung by Léo Ferré; here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HLB_EVtJK4.

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