France border controls criticised after fatal police worker stabbing

New law to be presented this week to allow for increased use of computer algorithms to detect potential threats among internet users

26 April 2021

The government is to present a new law this week strengthening anti-terror measures following an attack in Île-de-France in which a police worker was stabbed to death, amid renewed criticism of its immigration policy.

Five people have been detained after a 36-year-old Tunisian man, identified as Jamel Gorchene, stabbed a woman who worked at the police station in Rambouillet, southwest of Paris, on Friday April 23, as she was returning to work from a break. 

Gorchene  - who had embraced Islamist extremism in recent months but was reportedly not known to police - was shot and killed by a police officer shortly afterwards.

“We are now dealing with isolated individuals, increasingly younger and unknown to intelligence services, and often without any links to established Islamist groups,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday (April 25).

He said the new measures - which had been in preparation for several weeks prior to the attack - would include increased use of automatic information capture systems to detect potential terror threats among internet users.

 

But the attack has prompted criticism of the government's policies. The leader of the far-right Rassemblement National, Marine Le Pen, was quick to question France's immigration policy, saying "the country needs a turn of the screw", while Les Republicains' Eric Ciotti condemned the government's “naivety and inaction…in the face of terrorism and Islamism”.

Criticism has also come from honorary state councillor and former secretary general of the Ministry of Immigration Patrick Stefanini in Le Figaro.

Mr Stefanini said the attack was symptomatic of the failures of the State and the European Union in the fight against Islamist terrorism. It has emerged that Gorchene entered France illegally in 2009. He was granted authorisation to stay in France in 2019.

"We are dealing with people who do not adhere to the values ​​of the French Republic and who may be tempted at any time to attack people who embody the French state," Mr Stefanini said.

But, while he criticised French immigration policies, he said the problem was a European one. "In terms of the movement of people, France has put the cart before the horse by abolishing its internal border controls without acquiring all the instruments necessary for effective control of its external borders. 

"If this is not changed the European Union will continue to leak like a sieve and we will constantly expose ourselves to a repeat of the type of incident that happened on Friday."

He added: "The first problem is the extreme complexity of litigation involving foreigners - and it is regrettable that the government has not taken up the proposals made by the Council of State to simplify it."

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