Open letter to French Parliament on threats to civil liberties

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  • Fifteen groups write an "Open letter" to protest at the dangers to civil liberties in proposed laws

"The war fever caused by the tragedy of September 11 is leading to the adoption of hastily prepared anti-terrorist laws, which are being denounced by defenders of human rights and liberties in the United States, England, Germany, France and other countries. In France, in order "to fight terrorism," the government is weighing a series of exceptional security amendements -- part of the "Loi Securite Quotidienne" ("Day-to-day Security Law") -- that would totally infringe upon the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The signatories to this open letter are concerned about "the defense of democracy in the face of terrorism." They are worried by the proposed amendements' senseless, inefficient and intrusive attacks upon individual and collective liberties. The signatories fear that the imperative of security will be used as the pretext for the passage of amendments that have long been opposed by associations that defend human rights and individual liberties.

Allowing magistrates unlimited discretion to issue search warrants for vehicles and homes; allowing private security guards to perform searches of bags and bodies without any judicial review; permitting cross-examinations and other legal confrontations to take place at a distance; permitting telephone and Internet communication data, including encrypted data, to be accessed and surveilled; removing judicial control of decryption "defense" procedures; violating the rights to anonymous and private personal communications -- these proposed changes would leave the field open to arbitrary and discriminatory practices, not the fair and just application of the law.

The signatories of this open letter want to bring to the attention of their political representatives the dangers of placing into one category terrorism, immigration, civil protest, political opposition and petty crimes, and the dangers of allowing the proposed measures to be abused and utilized for ends other than the fight against terrorism.

Therefore, the signatories urge the members of Parliament to:

- oppose inefficient emergency measures that are offered without genuine parliamentary debate and without the implications of these measures being clearly understood by the public;

- oppose any measures or laws that extend the investigatory powers of law enforcement authorities for indefinite periods of time;

- oppose procedures that retroactively extend the investigatory powers of law enforcement authorities;

- insure that magistrates keep under the strictest control all measures that might infringe upon individual and collective liberties, such as the physical and moral integrity of individuals, freedom of opinion, the right to anonymity, and the right of privacy in all postal,telephonic and electronic communications.

October 10th 2001

Signatories as of October 15th 2001

Calle Luna
Federation Anarchiste
Collectif LSIJolie
Le Maquis
Réseau Voltaire pour la Liberté d'expression
Souriez Vous êtes filmés
Syndicat de la Magistrature
Les Virtualistes

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