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France willing to break European human rights law – Interior Minister

Paris will expel “dangerous” foreigners without waiting for ECHR approval, Gerald Darmanin declares

France is willing to go to great lengths to expel “dangerous” foreigners from the country, even if it means breaking some European laws, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has said.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) published on Sunday, he indicated that the country would remove these foreigners without waiting for a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on their cases, acting based on decisions made by the national judiciary only.

According to ECHR rules, it is “prohibited to expel someone who risks, in their country of origin, the death penalty since we are committed against it,” the minister explained.

“This is perfectly understandable, but a very political question arises for those in power: these people may perhaps return to their country of origin, but should we keep them in our country even if they could also cause death in our own country?”

In my opinion, the ECHR must understand that it is judging in a terrorist crisis situation, which did not exist when its rules were designed.

For instance, the minister has stood by the decision to expel two individuals hailing from Russia’s Chechen Republic last year. One of them had served a prison term on terrorist charges, while another was flagged as an “Islamist radical” by the Interior Ministry. Later on, the ECHR ruled both expulsions to be illegal, claiming the two might face “torture” if they ended up in Russia.

“I think that the French people … find it common sense that someone who was sentenced to ten years in jail for terrorist activities can be deported because they are very dangerous,” Darmanin said.

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The minister also noted that the authorities were ready to act without approval from the ECHR and face the consequences. If the move is deemed unlawful by the ECHR, it is penalized by a fine that is said to only be around 3,000 euros ($3,177)– while it often takes it up to three years to produce a ruling, according to French media reports.

“We used to wait until we had the opinion [of the ECHR], even if that meant keeping extremely dangerous people on our soil. Now we don’t wait. We expel and we wait to see what the court is going to say. The consequence of that is indeed a fine,” Darmanin explained, without specifying the exact amount of the fine.

Last week, the minister revealed the country had expelled 89 “dangerous” foreigners this year, including eight individuals over the past month. The tough rhetoric comes from the minister in the aftermath of the October 13 terrorist attack in Arras, which claimed the life of Dominique Bernard – a 57-year old teacher who was fatally stabbed by 20-year-old Mohammed M. The suspect, apparently driven by Islamism ideology, is believed to be of Chechen origin, having immigrated to France from Russia at the age of five.


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