French and UK parliamentarians 'must work together to fight terror'
Following the terrorist attacks on Paris last Friday, the French Parliament had an extraordinary session in Versailles the 16th of November. This is called a Congress – a reunion of both chambers, the National Assembly and the Senate. According to the article 18 of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, the President can deliver a crucial message for the nation to both chambers. During the speech, President Hollande qualified the terror attacks as an act of war. The Republic has to take exceptional measures in order to eliminate the threat represented by the Islamic State. The Parliament will vote at the end of the week the extension of the state of emergency which will last three months in order to give the possibility to our security forces to act in an efficient way. The President also mentioned the necessity of revising the Constitution to adapt the country to the new context of war. The decree of 1955 concerning the state of emergency needs to be completed.
Even though these measures are necessary, our legislation is on the whole adapted to the political context. We passed a law against terrorism during September 2014 and a law on the intelligent services in June 2015. This last law gave additional prerogatives to the intelligent services in terms of surveillance and exchange of data.
The role of the MPs is not only to vote on new bills but rather to examine how these laws are applied. Can we strengthen the cooperation of our intelligent services at the European level? It would beneficial to consider this possibility with our colleagues from the House of Commons and the House of Lords. A parliamentary investigating committee created in both countries could examine the nature of this cooperation and the way we adjust our defence against terrorism.
The standing committees on foreign affairs will also control our diplomatic action in the Middle-East, but we need also ideas in terms of how we can organise ourselves in order to fight against a hidden enemy.
This year, the National Assembly created an investigating committee devoted to the analysis of the radicalisation of young people who become jihadists. The committee travelled in different countries such as Denmark to understand how these countries react against this process. Denmark introduced deradicalisation cells to help jihadists to come back from this death ideology. The deradicalisation cells are a part of the solution but a better knowledge of how these networks act together with the instructions of the Islamic State is required. This organisation is different from Al-Qaeda and developed another strategy linked to the resources it has in Syria.
Parliamentary debate between our institutions is essential to guide our security forces in this very important period for the protection of our democratic models.
Christophe Premat is the Socialist Member of the Assemblée Nationale for French residents living in North Europe, the largest constituency by far of which is the UK