A French opposition MP, who’s a top counter-terror expert, advocates adopting a controversial Israel-style administrative detention to deter terrorism, as France is faced with new terror threats.
A top French counter-terror expert dropped a political bombshell Wednesday saying “we need to have administrative detention” and adding that he will visit Israel’s detention center at Ofer Prison as a potential future model.
The official, French opposition MP Georges Fenech made the surprising comments at the IDC Herzliya Conference on Counter-Terrorism on the university’s campus.
Fenech, who heads the French Parliamentary Special Commission into terror attacks in France, said “I know as a judge that it is hard” to reduce civil liberties.
He indicated that with thousands of suspicious people on France’s radar, the country should take preemptive measures against the first few hundred suspects on that register, asking “should we wait for them to act or should we act before them?”
“If you want to insist, you can wait for them to have a lawyer, but in the meantime people are killed,” said the French parliamentarian.
Fenech continued, “Or you can sacrifice a little of your freedom, arrest them before they act, put them in detention centers to evaluate how dangerous they are.”
The French MP added that “all of this is in the framework of the law.”
Countering anticipated criticism, he said, “people said you want to build a French Guantanamo. Of course not. There is no detention without control. We don’t want people humiliated. We want the Minister of the Interior, when he wants to decide to put someone in administrative detention, that within 48 hours a judge will approve the decision with information provided by the intelligence services.”
Further, “the detention will be limited in time. This is the main debate today in France.”
He explained that the opposition, including his preferred candidate Nicholas Sarkozy, wants to maintain democracy, but thinks France must do far more to protect the country against terror, even if it means rolling back some freedoms. In contrast, he said France’s ruling party has made only minor and insufficient legal changes to fight terrorism.
Under current polling, the opposition is projected to win the 2017 elections.