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France

Top French court allows state of emergency house searches but blocks data seizure

media French police search premises in the aftermath of last November's Paris attacks AFP

France's top court has thrown out a challenge to two important measures in the state of emergency declared after the 2015 Paris attacks. But the Constitutional Council banned police from seizing computer data during the course of house searches.

The court, which had already thrown out an appeal against house arrests, ruled that the state of emergency's provisions for searches of premises and bans on meetings were not unconstitutional, rejecting the argument of France's Human Rights League (LDH) that they were contrary to the constitution's guarantees of privacy and collective freedom of expression.

Legal challenges to house searches are possible, it said, even if only after the fact, and the ban on meetings did not cover street demonstrations.

But it did find that the law had not made sufficient provision for the protection of privacy when it came to seizing computer data, noting that it would be possible to copy data relating to people other than the suspected terrorist who was the object of the search.

The LDH's lawyer Patrice Spinosi declared the decisions "disappointing" but pointed out that the court had "told us you can't do anything you want during a state of emergency".

The measure was enacted after the November Paris attacks and prolonged because the government judged the terrorist threat to be "greater than ever" in the new year.

To read our coverage of the 2015 Paris attacks, click here

 

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