French lawmakers pass national security bill that restricts publication of images of police

The Global Security Bill’s most controversial part — Article 24 — which was authorized by lawmakers on Friday, forbids the publication of images that permit the identification of a regulation enforcement officer “with the intent to cause them harm, physically or mentally.”

The bill — which has been the topic of a lot criticism and a number of other protests — was amended by the federal government, lawmakers say, to make sure the liberty of the press.

Now that the bill has been handed by the National Assembly, it’s going to head to the Senate in December.

In an announcement earlier than Tuesday’s vote, Prime Minister Jean Castex’s workplace mentioned the brand new regulation mustn’t “prejudice the legitimate interest of the public to be informed.”

But the modification was not sufficient for Claire Hedon, a veteran journalist appointed earlier this yr as France’s Defender of Human Rights.

Speaking on French tv simply after the vote on Article 24, Hedon referred to as the modification a step in the appropriate path however warned that “in our legislative arsenal, there already exists the possibility to punish anyone who uses, in an ill-intentioned way, the videos that they publish.”

On Saturday, there have been extra protests towards the bill with an estimated 22,000 individuals participating in marches throughout France. In Paris the crowds included representatives of the media, together with some gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protesters and members of Extinction Rebellion.

Parisians protest the security bill near the Eiffel Tower on Monday.

‘Worrying message to ship’

Overall, the Global Security Bill would increase the flexibility of security forces to movie strange residents with out their consent via police bodycams and drones, whereas proscribing the publication of images or movies of police officers’ faces.

Amnesty International says that if the bill turns into regulation in its present type, France — one of the primary nations on this planet to proclaim the idea of common human rights — will develop into an exception amongst democracies.

“If people cannot film anything in the streets when the police may sometimes have an illegal use of force it’s a very worrying message to send,” in response to Cecile Coudriou, president of Amnesty International France.

“On one hand, citizens are asked to accept the possibility of being filmed under the pretext that they have nothing to fear if they have done nothing wrong. And at the same time the police refuse to be filmed, which is a right in every democracy in the world.”

The bill’s defenders say it’s vital after police officers had been singled out and harassed on social media in the course of the gilets jaunes protests of 2018 and 2019. They additionally say nothing within the bill stops journalists from doing their job, since prosecution would rely on the necessity to present an “intent to cause harm.”

But Reporters Without Borders says this provision is just too obscure. “Intent is a concept that is open to interpretation and hard to determine,” the group mentioned in an announcement.

“Any photos or video showing identifiable police officers that are published or broadcast by critical media outlets or are accompanied by critical comments could find themselves being accused of seeking to harm these police officers,” the group mentioned.

In parliament, the bill is being pushed by two lawmakers from President Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche occasion. One of them, Jean-Michel Fauvergue, the previous head of the police anti-terrorism unit, informed parliament this week: “Article 24 aims to ban their exposure and their harassment on social networks, by malicious and dangerous individuals. No worries: Journalists will still be able to do their job.”

The bill’s different co-sponsor Alice Thourot, informed CNN: “The broadcasting and capturing of images, whether with a camera or by citizens on a phone, of policemen doing their job with their faces exposed will be still be possible. What will change is that any calls for violence or incitement of hatred that accompany such pictures will be sanctioned by the law.”

Police batons and tear gasoline

Lawyers and journalists protest outside the National Assembly against the security law bill on November 17.

And there are fears that the proposed regulation has already emboldened police throughout protests.

Last Tuesday, as the controversy contained in the National Assembly started, protesters converged on the constructing to reveal towards Article 24. Thirty-three protesters had been taken in for questioning, primarily on the grounds of having did not disperse when ordered to by police.

Among them was a France Television journalist detained in a single day earlier than being launched the next afternoon with out cost. France Television, the nation’s most important public broadcaster, put out an announcement condemning what it referred to as the “abusive and arbitrary arrest of a journalist who was doing his job.”

At a press convention on Wednesday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin was requested in regards to the police response to the protests, and video of one journalist who claims police threatened him with arrest despite the fact that he’d proven his press card.

“The journalist did not approach the police ahead of the protest — as some of his colleagues did — in order to be allowed to cover it,” mentioned Darmanin. Nothing in French regulation requires journalists to hunt the permission of the police earlier than protecting a protest.

On Monday evening, the inside minister himself responded shortly after the dismantling of a migrant camp in Paris, saying that some of the images had been surprising.

Images and video posted on-line confirmed what seemed to be police chasing individuals down streets and hanging journalists with each police batons and tear gasoline. Darmanin tweeted that he had demanded an in depth report on the incident, including: “I will take decisions as soon as I receive it.”

Incitement of hatred

But past the work of journalists, there are additionally fears about what the bill means for members of the general public and what they may seize on their telephones.

As Coudriou explains, “there have been so many cases of police brutality recently in France exposed precisely through the sorts of things that would now become illegal. Amnesty International has used a lot of these videos, after verifying their authenticity. They show how some police brutality could occur despite a constant strategy of denial.”

Earlier this yr Cédric Chouviat, a 42-year-old father of 5 of North African heritage, died shortly after being stopped by police close to the Eiffel Tower. During the cease, filmed by a number of passing motorists, Chouviat was pinned down by three police officers; he died in a hospital two days later, and his post-mortem revealed a damaged larynx, in response to the prosecutor within the case.

After George Floyd, French police face fresh scrutiny over alleged brutality

After a number of months and an preliminary denial of any impropriety on the half of the police, the newbie footage partly led to the opening of a felony investigation into the actions of the officers concerned. Three officers now face costs of manslaughter. All of them deny any wrongdoing

“It would be saying, after George Floyd, we’re not going to allow the filming of police,” in response to David Dufresne, who says his latest movie about police brutality, “The Monopoly of Violence,” merely could not have been made if the worldwide security bill had been regulation.

“In France we have a similar case: Cédric Chouviat,” Dufresne informed CNN. “The people who pass and see that there is a police check that looks like it’s going badly. None of them know what happens next which is the death of this man. When they start filming it is because they understand that they must.”

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