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French Lawmakers Approve Controversial Counterterrorism Law

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the new legislation would allow the country's authorities to combat terrorism "without abandoning our values and principles." (file photo)

The French Senate on October 18 approved a controversial counterterrorism law that the government says is needed to combat terrorism once a state of emergency expires at the end of the month.

The Senate voted 244-22 to approve the bill, which enjoyed broad support, although lawmakers made amendments in response to criticism that the original version would have infringed on individual liberties.

The lower house National Assembly overwhelmingly approved it last week.

The law, which turns modified emergency powers into ordinary law, still has to be signed by President Emmanuel Macron.

In a major speech on security on October 18, Macron said the compromise text reached by lawmakers would allow the authorities to combat terrorism "without abandoning our values and principles."

The legislation gives law enforcement greater authority to conduct searches, to close religious facilities, and to restrict the movements of people suspected of extremist ties.

Human Rights Watch criticized what it called a "normalization of emergency powers" and UN experts raised objections in a letter to the French government last month.

The state of emergency was imposed in November 2015 after the Paris terror attacks claimed by the Islamic State group that killed 130 people. It was renewed six times.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa