This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
THOUSANDS of people took to the streets in Paris and other French cities at the weekend, urged by civil liberties campaigners and journalist groups to protest against a proposed security law they say would impinge on freedom of information and media rights.
Legislation currently passing through France’s parliament would create a new criminal offence of publishing images of police officers with intent to cause them harm.
Offenders would face a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison and a €45,000 (£40,000) fine.
The government says that the proposal is intended to protect police officers from online calls for violence.
Critics fear that, if enacted, the measure would endanger journalists and other observers who take videos of officers at work, especially during violent demonstrations.
In Paris, several thousand demonstrators gathered on the Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower chanting: “Freedom, freedom,” and “Everyone wants to film the police.”
Police used water cannon to disperse the crowd as minor scuffles broke out at the end of the demonstration.
Paris police said that 23 people were detained and an officer was slightly injured.
Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International France, the Human Rights League, journalists’ unions and other groups encouraged people to attend the protest.
“We are not here to defend a privilege of our profession, press freedom and journalists' freedom,” Edwy Plenel, co-founder and editor of investigative website Mediapart, said.
“We are here to defend fundamental rights, the rights of all people.”
The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and France’s human rights ombudsman have also voiced concerns that the new provision could undermine fundamental rights.
In response to the criticism, Prime Minister Jean Castex said last week that the measure would be amended to specify that it “won’t impede the freedom of information” and that it will focus only on images broadcast with “clear” intent to harm a police officer.
Emmanuel Poupard, secretary general of the National Journalists Union (SNJ), said on Saturday that he thinks the new amendment “doesn’t change anything.”
The police image law “has only one goal: to boost the sense of impunity of law enforcement officers and make invisible police brutality,” he said.
Protesters argue that recording officers in action is essential to being able to condemn and curb the actions of violent officers.
They also worry how courts would determine whether images were posted with intent to harm.
In July three French police officers were charged with manslaughter over the death of a delivery man, Cedric Chouviat, that bystanders caught on video.
Chouviat’s death had similarities with the killing of George Floyd in the US, which sparked outrage around the world and a series of Black Lives Matter demonstrations in France.
The proposed law is championed by lawmakers from President Emmanuel Macron’s party, which has a majority in the national assembly.
Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on the Bill on Tuesday, which also includes other security measures. It will then go to the senate.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.