Protests in France against the controversial “public security” bill

Submitted by the ruling party, and stipulating a restriction on publishing photos of police personnel
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18.11.2020

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The French capital, Paris, witnessed, on Tuesday, protests against the “public security” bill, which prohibits the publication of videos or pictures of security forces while on duty in any media.

Earlier Tuesday, French representatives began discussing the controversial bill, which provides a new framework for organizing the work of the local (municipal) police.

However, Article 24 of it raises great controversy among the political and media classes together, as it is seen as a threat to freedoms, especially freedom of the press.

In conjunction with the start of discussions of the bill in the French National Assembly (Parliament), thousands gathered on Saint Germain Street, near the parliament, to protest against this move.

The protests, in which human rights activists, journalists, and the owners of the ambassadors’ vests participated, witnessed from time to time clashes between protesters and policemen, who intervened to disperse them with tear gas canisters and water cannons.

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In an interview with Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the protests, a female demonstrator, Nadia, said, “If parliament passes this bill, our lives will be in danger, so it must be rejected.”

She added, “Not only will the issue threaten our lives, but it will also greatly affect the media and journalists, who will shed light on the violence perpetrated against us.”

The aforementioned bill was submitted by the “Republic Forward” party bloc. This law focuses on expanding the powers of the local (municipal) police and organizing private security, but Article 24 of it, which regulates the publication of pictures of the police forces, is being criticized by freedom defenders.

This article imposes a one-year prison sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros for anyone who publishes pictures of “a face or any identification mark” of a policeman or gendarme while performing his work with the aim of “inflicting physical or psychological harm on him.”

This article aroused the ire of journalists and freedoms defenders, because they see it as a “grave violation” of the freedom of the press.

The project faces rejection by parliamentary blocs in the National Assembly, as the Communist Party rejects “the withdrawal of the state from the sovereign tasks,” just as the centrists want the “Modem” bloc to make reservations about the issue of security in particular.

Left-wing blocs in Parliament criticize the existence of Article 24 in the draft, and thus the “Republic Forward” bloc will not be able to rely on its allies in the “Modem” movement, who demand the deletion of this article.

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