Protests over new security law planned across France

28 November 2020, 12:54

France Police
France Police. Picture: PA

Dozens of rallies are taking place against a controversial Bill which would restrict sharing images of police.

Critics of a proposed French security law which would restrict sharing images of police were gathering across the country in protest on Saturday.

Dozens of rallies are taking place against the controversial Bill, which was approved by the lower house of Parliament this week but still awaits a green light from the Senate.

Civil liberties groups and journalists are concerned that the measure will hinder press freedoms and allow police brutality to go undiscovered and unpunished.

The cause has gained renewed importance in recent days after footage emerged of French police officers beating up a black man, triggering a nationwide outcry.

France Police
Music producer Michel Zecler was beaten up by French police officers (Thibault Camus/AP)

President Emmanuel Macron spoke out against the video images on Friday, saying “they shame us”.

Mr Macron’s remarks were his first since apparently unwarranted use of force by police came under the spotlight.

Video that surfaced on Thursday showed the beating, days earlier, of music producer Michel Zecler, following footage of the brutal police evacuation on Tuesday of migrants in a Paris plaza.

The officers involved in the beating of Mr Zecler were suspended pending an internal investigation.

Article 24 of the new Bill criminalises the publishing of pictures of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity”. Anyone found guilty could be sentenced to up to a year in jail, and fined 45,000 euros (£33,700).

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A demonstrator holds a board reading ‘Blurry police, blinded justice’ during a protest in Paris against a new law on police images (Christophe Ena/AP)

Critics have branded it authoritarian, fearing the vaguely worded law could be broadly applied.

Protesters calling for the article to be withdrawn say it goes against their democracy’s “fundamental public freedoms”.

Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Friday that he would appoint a commission to redraft Article 24, but backtracked after anger from politicians.

The commission is now expected to make new proposals by early next year on the relationship between the media and police.

By Press Association