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Politics

Esther Benbassa: “Returning common law to the judiciary is a must”

Interview by Sébastien Crépel

Translated Monday 11 January 2016, by Adrian Jordan

“Initially presented as a miracle cure against terrorism, the state of emergency has not advanced the fight against terrorism very much. Despite the thousands of searches, few arms have been found and, as a member of the parliamentary commission for monitoring the state of emergency, I am not certain of its utility. Though it enabled response at a time of anguish among the people, I do not support its prolongation. We do not have need for exceptional measures to act against arms and drug trafficking, and the state of emergency has not facilitated the capture of the fugitive responsible for the latest attacks. To entrench it within the Constitution would be to normalise this state of emergency, and I am not in favour of it. A permanent state of emergency, as sanctioned by its constitutionalisation, whatever one’s perspective, does not correspond with the rules of democracy. That would make the state of emergency matter of fact. We do not reassure people by intensifying anxiety and repeatedly saying we are at war, contrarily, this risks giving a little more weight to the National Front. We must go no further along the path to a martial, war-like, state: returning common law to the judiciary is a must if we wish to avoid future transgressions. Anyhow, they have already started, as with the arrest of ecologists on a rally. It would be more beneficial to enhance the intelligence services to make them better able to combat terrorism.

As for the rescission of nationality, it would be better for François Hollande to renounce this measure. We can now clearly see this was a manoeuvring tactic, ahead of the regional elections, to stave off the right and extreme right. Terrorists do not need dual-nationality to kill dozens of people. Equally, we are not going to introduce a two-tier citizenship in the name of necessity, just to expel three or four individuals! Togetherness as a nation is already hindered enough in this fashion without need to further divide the country.”


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