Manuel Valls announces new measures against radicalization
On May 9, 2016, Manuel Valls chaired the Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Criminality and Radicalization, in the presence of 10 ministers. The Prime Minister set out a new plan to combat radicalization and terrorism. The 80 measures, including 50 new ones, are a new boost to the government’s policy against terrorism and radicalization.
A new step in the fight against terrorism and the prevention of radicalization has been taken by the government, to face up to the major challenge of fighting jihadism. This large-scale phenomenon—which affects not only France—today involves more than 2,000 people identified in Syria-Iraq networks.
"Five thousand individuals have left Europe since the conflict began. Many have remained over there. Of them, 627 are French—the most significant contingent among European fighters," said the Prime Minister. Moreover, nearly 9,300 people have been identified as being radicalized. It is currently necessary to build a national strategy against radicalization and terrorism which mobilizes public action in every area.
Action Plan against Radicalization and Terrorism
From May 9, 2016 onwards, this Action Plan against Radicalization and Terrorism (PART) replaces the one adopted in 2014. These 80 measures, including 50 new ones, are divided into seven priorities.
1. Detecting radicalization
Spotting radicalized targets, gauging the danger they pose and understanding how networks organize themselves are all preconditions for preventing them from doing harm. A national hotline, activated in 2014, has allowed tipoffs to be received and dealt with. A common analytical grid has been created to distinguish between tipoffs that reflect a danger and those that do not.
Action must be taken on terrorists’ movements to "prevent terrorists from moving around and finding weapons and funding". To this end, the French PNR (Passenger Name Record) will be gradually introduced from this summer.
"Radicalization in prison must be dealt with in a specific way," the Prime Minister emphasized. "The prisons authority will be provided with a fully-functioning intelligence service, after having already created dedicated units for regrouping radicalized detainees," the Prime Minister announced.
2. Acting against radicalization
An operational battle against networks is being fought on French soil—first of all by cutting off all funding sources: "Anyone who enrols in terrorist networks loses welfare benefits," said the Prime Minister. "The Budget Ministry is also proceeding to freeze the financial assets of groups or voluntary organizations suspected of financing terrorism."
"Cracking down on terrorism is the responsibility of the judicial authorities," Manuel Valls went on, reaffirming this "intangible truth: a terrorist must be brought to justice and sentenced." When the courts do not have sufficient evidence to embark on prosecution, "the checking and assessment mechanism must be very strict. I’m thinking in particular of people who return to France after leaving to wage jihad."
Combating radicalization also means taking military action against terrorist havens abroad. International military action will be continued against a perfectly identified enemy: Daesh [so-called ISIL] and al-Qaeda in Syria, Iraq and the Sahel.
3. Preventing radicalization
Schools are in the front line when it comes to preventive action against radicalization. "Checks on schools not under contract and on home schooling will be continued and stepped up," said Manuel Valls. Culture is also one of the main forces against radicalization, working against "obscurantism and brainwashing". In addition, "media education must be broadened: it’s the best weapon against conspiracy theories."
4. Taking charge of people who are radicalized or are being radicalized
One thousand six hundred young people and 800 families affected by radicalization are currently receiving tailored support from follow-up units in their departments’ prefectures. Police, teachers and social workers have learned to share their information and pool their activities.
The goal of the plan set out on 9 May is to double, within the next two years, the capacity to take charge of radicalized people. This means national management should be strengthened.
The Interministerial Fund for the Prevention of Criminality (FIPD) will be increased to €100 million. The others will be funded under the finance laws, out of the ministries’ budgets.
5. Citizenship and rehabilitation centers
By 2017, all regions must have long-term accommodation centers to take charge of radicalized individuals. These centers will take people "who we feel are sincere and determined about long-term rehabilitation," said Manuel Valls.
"Public services run by local authorities have a fundamental role to play in taking charge of certain radicalized individuals," explained the Prime Minister. "The state wishes to forge a much more active partnership with local authorities." He announced the holding of a day of mobilization and discussions with local authorities to step up joint action between the state and local authorities.
6. Actively engaging in research and developing counter-speech
But beyond immediately tackling the terrorist danger, it is essential to analyze all the motives leading to the retreat into radicalization. "There are broad areas of analysis: social, sociological and also psychological. The state’s mission is to give public research the resources to invest in this still pioneering area of study, by creating jobs, allocating research grants and even creating a permanent Scientific Council" in charge of this issue, said the Prime Minister.
Radicalization is also fought at the level of ideas and values. As well as "strengthening partnerships with Internet giants so they help us stop the broadcasting of filmed propaganda", we also need to make the voices of French Islam heard; they must "speak even more loudly than they are today. We shall always stand alongside those who advocate conciliation and adherence to the values of the Republic", stated the Prime Minister.
7. Protecting French people
"This plan works to protect French people", explained Manuel Valls, who has raised awareness about the still-imminent danger "of a threat which, let there be no doubt, will strike again [...] in the age of hyper-terrorism."
The protection of sensitive sites is a fundamental aspect of the strategy. It mobilizes many police and soldiers, including 7,000 in Operation Sentinelle. Several beefed-up measures will come into force in the summer, with particular vigilance during Euro 2016.
Support for victims is an aspect the Prime Minister was also keen to emphasize.