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Ministry of the Interior

As of 1 July 2008, the following two National Police directorates: Direction de la surveillance du territoire (Directorate of Territorial Surveillance; DST) and Direction centrale des renseignements généraux (Central Directorate of General Information; DCRG or RG) were merged into one single domestic intelligence agency titled the Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI), and placed directly under the Ministry of the Interior.

The Central Directorate of internal intelligence (DCRI) became, on 12 May 2014, the Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure (DGSI). The Agency took over the missions of intelligence and judicial police until then devolved to the DCRI, merger of General Intelligence (RG) and DST (Counterintelligence) attached to the Directorate-General of the national police (DGPN) conducted in 2008 during the quinquennium of Nicolas Sarkozy.

Nicholas Sarkozy was Minister of the Interior between May 2002 and March 2004, and again between June 2005 and March 2007. Manuel Valls was Interior Minister from May 2012 to March 2014, when he became Prime Minister. After the electoral defeat in the municipal elections of March 2014, the French president Francois Hollande wrought changes in government naming the then Home Secretary Manuel Valls as Prime Minister.

French law belongs to the family of civil law systems. Legislation occupies a paramount position, while court decisions play a lesser role. A decision is only binding on the parties to the case at hand and does not constitute a binding precedent for the lower courts. Custom, of great importance in the old French law, particularly in northern France, today plays a very limited role, largely in the clarification or interpretation of statutes. France is one of the founders of the European Union and is subject to Community law.

In November 2014, France adopted a new law to reinforce its fight against terrorism. (Loi n° 2014-1353 du 13 novembre 2014 renforçant les dispositions relatives à la lutte contre le terrorisme [Law No. 2014-1353 of November 13, 2014, Strengthening Provisions on the Fight Against Terrorism] (Nov. 13, 2014). One of the more noteworthy provisions of this new law allows the government to prohibit a French citizen from leaving French territory when there are serious reasons to believe that he/she is planning on leaving to join a terrorist group or participate in terrorist activities.

This provision was applied for the first time on February 23, 2015, when French authorities confiscated the passports and identity cards of six men between the ages of 23 and 28, whom French intelligence services believed were preparing for an “imminent” departure for Syria. Some of the would-be jihadists were first brought to the attention of French intelligence services when their relatives called a telephone hotline maintained by the Ministry of Interior for that purpose. Others were identified during investigations conducted by the Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure (Directorate General for Interior Security), the main French domestic intelligence agency.

These six individuals are now prohibited from leaving France for a period of six months, renewable to last for up to two years. If they were to be caught trying to leave France, they could be sentenced to up to three years of imprisonment and a fine of up to €45,000 (about US$51,000). (Id.) This prohibition could be challenged in an administrative court within two months of its imposition.

The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has stated that “there will be others” who would be prohibited from leaving the territory on suspicion of joining a terrorist organization, and an AFP source has indicated that approximately 40 similar cases are currently being investigated.

Regional intervention groups (GIR) have been created by an inter-ministerial circular of May 22, 2002 to form one force bringing together all services concerned by "the fight against the underground economy and the various forms of organized crime that accompany", indicates the Ministry of the Interior. The GIR are multidisciplinary French police entities responsible for combating crime in all its aspects by using the criminal but also tax, customs or administrative, legislative and regulatory means.

The organizational unit and command the GIR (UOC), led by a police officer (a Commissioner or a police officer) or by an officer of the gendarmerie is composed of police (public security, judicial police, border police), constables, an official of taxes and an official customs and for some GIR of an agent of the URSSAF. It ensures the preparation and the Organization of intervention and assistance operations, and is responsible for their good performance, under the direction of the administrative authority or Court of employment. At the meeting, the GIR is headed by a police commander who has a constable to Assistant.

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Page last modified: 20-11-2015 13:11:59 ZULU