what is the state of emergency decreed by Emmanuel Macron? – Liberation

what is the state of emergency decreed by Emmanuel Macron? – Liberation
what is the state of emergency decreed by Emmanuel Macron? – Liberation

Established in 1955 in the middle of the Algerian war, this exceptional regime provides exceptional powers to the executive and restricts certain public and individual freedoms.

After two nights of riots in New Caledonia causing the death of three people, the executive reacts. At the start of the afternoon this Wednesday, May 15, the Elysée announced, in a press release, that Emmanuel Macron had decided to declare a state of emergency on the island. The Head of State then responded favorably to the request of several local elected officials. In a letter addressed to Emmanuel Macron, the main figure of the non-independence camp, the former Secretary of State Sonia Backès, had asked the President to declare a state of emergency, “in particular by engaging the army alongside the police and gendarmerie forces”. “We are in a state of civil war”, she lamented. A request also relayed by the National Rally and the Republicans.

The state of emergency is a controversial emergency regime which must be declared by decree taken by the Council of Ministers. It results from a law passed in 1955, at the start of the Algerian War. A state of emergency may be declared over all or part of the territory, either in the event of “imminent danger resulting from serious breaches of public order”, either in case of “public calamity” (such as a natural disaster). The state of emergency has an initial duration of twelve days, but can be extended by a law passed in Parliament. The objective: to strengthen the powers of civil authorities while restricting certain public or individual freedoms.

Strengthened powers

Thanks to this exceptional regime, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, and the prefects could in particular prohibit demonstrations or gatherings, prohibit public meetings, demand the closure of public places. It also allows, upon express provision of the decree declaring the state of emergency, to decide on the control of the press, publications, radio broadcasts or even cinema screenings and theatrical performances. Finally, it also makes it possible to relinquish essential prerogatives from the judiciary: administrative authorities obtain the right to carry out searches, day or night, and military justice can be declared competent.

Due to the exceptional nature of the state of emergency, it has only been declared six times since 1955: three times during the attacks during the Algerian war, once in 1984 during the events in New Caledonia, during the revolts of 2005 after the deaths of Zyed and Bouna, and more recently in 2015, after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis. Since then, this law “continued to be renewed, until it was introduced piecemeal into common law”, details lawyer Henri Leclerc, honorary president of the Human Rights League, in an interview for Release. “That the State takes advantage of moments of collective fear to restrict freedoms seems dangerous to me”, judges the lawyer in this interview. The last time a state of emergency was declared was in June 2023, after Nahel’s death.

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