France: State of emergency extended, events cancelled

France’s National Assembly yesterday (July 20) voted to extend the state of emergency – a security measure that’s been in place since the November 13 Paris attacks that left 130 dead and were claimed by the Islamic State group. Following the attack in Nice last week, president Francois Hollande initially extended the state of emergency for three months.

Of great concern is that authorities are bracing for copycat attacks and light of this Paris police cancelled events including open-air free movie showings and a car-free day on the city’s famed Champs-Elysees boulevard.

Police are also deploying in larger numbers around Paris Plages, a month long beach event that kicked off Wednesday with sand and summer activities on embankments along the Seine River. Paris police will now use concrete barriers to block areas with large crowds in hopes of preventing the kind of carnage that occurred in Nice, when a driver rammed his truck through a crowd of pedestrians.

Officials say five unidentified people remain in custody for possible links to the Nice truck attack and could face terrorism charges.

What State of Emergency really means:

A government or division of government (i.e. on a municipal, provincial/state level) may declare that their area is in a state of emergency. This means that the government can suspend and/or change some functions of the executive, the legislative and/or the judiciary during this period of time. It alerts citizens to change their normal behavior and orders government agencies to implement emergency plans. A government can declare a state of emergency during a time of natural or human-made disaster, during a period of civil unrest, or following a declaration of war or situation of international/internal armed conflict. Justitium is its equivalent in Roman law, where Senate could put forward senatus consultum ultimum.

It can also be used as a rationale (or pretext) for suspending rights and freedoms guaranteed under a country’s constitution or basic law. The procedure for and legality of doing so varies by country.

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