Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Using Emergency Powers, France Puts Climate Activists under House Arrest

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Using Emergency Powers, France Puts Climate Activists under House Arrest

Article excerpt

Citing emergency laws enacted after the mass shootings carried out by ISIS in Paris earlier this month, France has placed 24 environmental activists under house arrest before the COP 21 World Climate Summit beginning Monday.

France declared a state of emergency after the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 people, giving broader protection powers to security forces and police. President Francois Hollande extended the "etat d'urgence" until February 2016, allowing authorities to set curfews, forbid mass gatherings, conduct house searches at any time without judicial approval, and enforce house arrests.

"These 24 people have been placed under house arrest because they have been violent during demonstrations in the past and because they have said they would not respect the state of emergency," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a speech in Strasbourg on Saturday. "These people have no connection at all with the terrorist movement, but our forces need to be totally focused on the protection of the French people."

French authorities have also "issued a blanket ban on demonstrations," including rallies of peaceful protestors. The 24 activists under house arrest are set to be freed after Dec. 12, the last day of the summit. One detainee, who identified herself as Amelie to France 24 News, said she is unable to leave her town of Rennes, she must register at the local police station three times a day, and she is prohibited from leaving her home between the hours of 8pm and 6am.

Fellow climate activists have voiced their disapproval, arguing the government's sanction is an abuse of power that restricts the free speech of its citizens.

"Climate summits are not photo opportunities to boost the popularity of politicians," Naomi Klein, an author and environmental advocate told The Guardian. "Given the stakes of the climate crisis, they are by their nature highly contested. …

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