French citizens rescued from foreign trouble spots could be forced to cover the cost, under proposals drawn up by France’s foreign ministry.
Legislation would target tourists who ignore official warnings and travel “irresponsibly” to regions considered hazardous by the foreign ministry, such as war zones or areas of serious political instability.
The French foreign ministry currently advises against any travel in a number of regions including Afghanistan, Iraq and some parts of Pakistan.
The law could also be applied to travel agencies and insurance companies.
Bernard Kouchner, foreign minister, submitted the proposals to the cabinet last month. The law could be voted on in the French parliament before the end of the year, according to the foreign ministry.
The proposals come after a number of high-profile hostage-taking incidents involving French nationals. In May, a French tourist was kidnapped in an area of Pakistan that embassies had warned against visiting; one month earlier, a French family was taken hostage by pirates off the coast of Somalia, in spite of repeated warnings from the French navy.
The foreign ministry said: “If tourists decide to ignore official warnings, and then fall into difficulties, the new law would allow the French state to ask them to pay the price.”
A similar law exists in Germany. Last year, a Berlin court ordered a 35-year- old woman and former hostage to pay the German foreign ministry part of the costs for her liberation. The ministry was demanding €12,640 ($17,870, £10,691) to pay for a helicopter flight she was given after 10 weeks of captivity in the Colombian jungle.
The French foreign ministry said certain groups would be exempt from the law, including reporters. But the ministry refused to confirm whether aid workers would also be exempt, saying discussions were still at an early stage.
Additional reporting by Bertrand Benoit in Berlin
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