Two FRA papers examine the responses to January’s attacks in Paris

The attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices on 7 January 2015 that left 12 people dead framed the initial debate on the necessity of protecting the right to freedom of expression. However, the subsequent murder of four Jewish people in a kosher supermarket and the deadly shooting of a police officer in Paris, as well as the suspected attack on police in Belgium added other dimensions to political, media and civilian responses across the EU.

In a focus paper, FRA examines the fundamental rights issues associated with the attacks and the subsequent policy discussions on increasing the EU’s internal security. The paper discusses the proposed EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) and profiling, stressing that while surveillance of people suspected of criminal activity is a legitimate instrument, ethnicity or religion cannot be the sole reason for monitoring them. The paper also argues there is a need to focus more on combating social exclusion and discrimination as a means of preventing radicalisation.

In the immediate aftermath of the events in Paris, FRA collected reactions across the EU, focusing on Jewish and Muslim community organisations, political leaders, civil society and the media. In a second paper, FRA examines these responses and finds that while community leaders united in their condemnation of the attacks, fear among the affected communities rose sharply. FRA’s research also shows that the predominant policy response has so far concentrated on tighter security measures to counter terrorism and radicalisation.

FRA emphasises throughout both papers the need to integrate fundamental rights considerations from the outset in order to ensure the proportionality and legitimacy of internal security policies.