French President Francois Hollande
French President Francois Hollande

PARIS (AA) – The French government would like to extend the state of emergency for up to four months, which could possibly be renewable, said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Friday.

Valls spoke at the National Assembly where he presented in details the draft constitutional law — “Protection of the Nation” — which suggests including the state of emergency and stripping French citizenship away from all French nationals if convicted of terrorist offenses, instead of just from those with dual nationalities as it was initially suggested.

Commenting on the controversial measure of withdrawing French citizenship, that saw the former justice minister Christiane Taubira walking away from the socialist government, Valls said the “principle of equality” between French nationals will be “registered”.

“This text, guarantor of republican equality, and not make any distinction based on birth, the mode of acquisition of citizenship or on holding  one or more citizenships,” Valls said .

However, he did not explain how it will be technically applied, as a French national cannot render someone stateless, according to the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Noting that a much higher proportion and French citizens of dual nationality come are from migrant background, HRW said Wednesday it fears “that some native-born French citizens are being treated as second-class citizens”.

“Stripping French-born citizens of their citizenship could force people into exile from the only country they have ever known,” HRW said.

Parliament will debate the bill after which the Senate will vote on the proposal on Feb. 9, followed by a vote in the National Assembly on Feb. 16.

France introduced a 12-day state of emergency within hours of Daesh-claimed attacks that killed 130 people on Nov. 13. Parliament later extended it for a further three months.

The state of emergency, which gives sweeping powers to police and intelligence agencies, is due to expire on Feb. 26.

Valls said his government is “ready to restrict the period of extension [of the state of emergency] to a maximum period of four months, renewable”.

He added it would be a “step forward from the 1955 Act, which provides no date limit”.

The French premier also claimed that one terrorist attack had been foiled since the state of emergency was imposed. “Networks have been disrupted. Numerous individuals have been identified and placed under surveillance,” Valls said.

He added police have carried out 3,289 house searches, placed 341 people in custody, put 407 under house arrest and confiscated 560 weapons, 42 of them war-grade, in the three months since the November attacks.

Valls said half of the 2,000 people involved in some way or other with “jihadist networks” in Syria and Iraq had left France for that region, and 597 were still there.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International issued reports Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, pointing to effects of the state of emergency which have been especially felt by the French Muslim community and calling for its suspension.

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