What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Attacks move France to grant law enforcement more power

Paris marked and mourned one week since a string of attacks that killed 130 people. Since last Friday, French police have carried out hundreds of raids, including one that killed the alleged mastermind. Now the government is moving to give the police more power, and Europol says more should to be done to prevent future atrocities. Hari Sreenivasan, reporting from Paris, talks to Judy Woodruff.

Read the Full Transcript


    It's been one week since Paris was struck by tragedy. France moved to give law enforcement officials more power to prevent future attacks, as its citizens try to move forward.

    Hari Sreenivasan has been in Paris all week, and has the story.


    The shaken City of Light returned to life tonight, if only temporarily. The sound of music and flicker of candles marked the moment the string of deadly attacks began one week ago. It was part of a campaign by cultural figures urging Parisians to make noise and light and show that the French spirit cannot be dimmed by terror.

    Hours earlier, a cold rain soaked memorials across the French capital, but mourners were undeterred.

  • WOMAN (through interpreter):

    It was important for me to come. It's really moving to see all these flowers. I think it's very sad. It's been a week since the attacks, and it feels like it was just yesterday. It's impossible to get rid of this sadness that we all feel.

  • MAN (through interpreter):

    I think a lot of people are still scared. We have to be careful not to fall into nasty hatred, as can happen.


    There was one more death to mourn today, as another victim died of wounds, raising the death toll to 130. More than 350 others were wounded in last Friday's violence. Authorities also reported a third body was discovered overnight at the site of the Saint-Denis apartment that police raided on Wednesday.

    Security officials now say that raid killed the alleged ringleader of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. He'd been spotted on surveillance video in the Paris subway shortly after the shootings and bombings began. In all, French police have carried out nearly 800 raids since then, and arrested 90 people. And the government is moving to leave that power with the police.

    Today, the French Senate voted to extend the state of emergency another 90 days. That means, among other things, police can get permission to raid a suspect's house from the Interior Ministry. They don't have to go to a criminal court to do this. This is causing concern about the balance between police powers and civil liberties.

  • JEROME BONNET, Spokesman, French National Police (through interpreter):

    The results so far have allowed us to find hundreds of weapons.


    Jerome Bonnet is the spokesman for the French national police. He says the speed is necessary in times like these and that the measures are temporary.

    Is this the new normal for France, that you're going to be this aggressive on a nightly basis or a daily basis?

  • JEROME BONNET (through interpreter):

    The principle of state of emergency is that it is supposed to be temporary. We will quit this state of emergency when the level of threat goes down.


    But, already, some are concerned about the long-term impacts of the new police powers.

    FLORIAN BORG, President, Union of Lawyers of France (through interpreter): Even if we're talking about a deep level of pain that French people are experiencing, we're still wondering how we can respect citizens' rights if this situation continues.


    Florian Borg is the president of a union representing 1,000 civil and criminal lawyers. He thinks this is executive overreach, and undercuts the judicial branch of government.

  • FLORIAN BORG (through interpreter):

    In a democracy, for it to be calm and to live in freedom, we need a justice system that punishes, that corrects behavior and prevents all kinds of crime, including terrorism. And now this is not the impression we have.


    The attacks have also put new focus on migrants entering Europe. French prosecutors said today they have now determined that two of the attackers arrived in Greece last month with other migrants. And Muslims in France say they're feeling the pressure.

    Today, those attending Friday prayers at Paris' Grand Mosque were carefully screened before entering. Some said they have been stigmatized by Islamic State actions.

  • MAN (through interpreter):

    People make generalizations based on what happened, based on the acts committed by a few individuals, which were not at all committed in the name of Islam. Even if they yelled words that could mislead people, they acted of their own accord.


    Meanwhile, in Brussels, European Union ministers met in emergency session and pledged solidarity with France in addressing the growing threat of violent extremism. They agreed to new measures tightening border checks, surveillance, and gun control, after an appeal by France's interior minister.

  • BERNARD CAZENEUVE, Interior Minister, France (through interpreter):

    The strengthening of external border controls, particularly in the light of the heightened terrorist threat, is indispensable for the security of European citizens. We have come together today to act. And we need concrete e action. We should proceed quickly and with force. Europe owes it to all the victims of terrorism and their loved ones.


    The head of the E.U.'s law enforcement agency, Europol, agreed that more needs to be done to prevent future atrocities.

  • ROB WAINWRIGHT, Director, Europol:

    I think the key to respond to such a complex and now clearly an international threat of the dimension we have seen is information sharing, the ability to collect and connect the right intelligence at the right time, and this is a very complex environment, where we have got to get that right.


    Back here in Paris, while I'm standing at what is a makeshift or informal memorial service to the victims of the attacks, there is an official memorial service planned about a week from now.

    It's supposed to be more of a celebration of their lives than a mourning for their loss — Judy.


    So, Hari, you were talking to some French security officials. What additional powers do they now have? They say they're temporary, but what more can they do in the short run?


    Well, they can now make basically house arrests of anyone that they want without really any repercussions for them, just if they feel that that individual is a threat to public security.

    They can dissolve groups that they also think perhaps could incite terror. They can block Web sites that they think are related to terrorism. And they can also extend the ability to carry out warrantless searches. And they can also seize any data that is in a home or in during that search. The only exceptions are for journalists, for lawyers, or members of Parliament.


    And, Hari, from talking to the French police, do you get the sense that they think they now have the tools to prevent future attacks? How confident do they seem?


    Well, what they say is, listen, we have prevented six major attacks on French soil since Charlie Hebdo. We are working as well as we can. Obviously, we missed this. This is a failure. There is nobody that's trying to cover that up.

    But one of the concerns and complaints they, like most of the European nations have, is, I wish we had better access to intelligence. We know that other countries have intelligence about some of these individuals, but we're just not getting it. And they said, yes, the information sharing has increased. It has gotten better since Charlie Hebdo, but clearly not enough.


    And do they expect they're going to get it?


    They hope so. And this is one of the key concerns that the political establishment has, is, exactly what else do you need? Is it about creating a whole different agency across Europe that works together? Or is it about beefing the existing ones up?


    Hari Sreenivasan, joining us once again from the streets of Paris, thank you very much.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest