By SYLVIE Corbett, The Associated Press
PARIS (AP) – Thousands of people took to the streets in Paris and other French cities on Saturday at the urging of civil liberties campaigners and journalist groups to oppose the proposed security law saying they would ban freedom of information and media rights.
The law, pending in France’s Parliament, would create a new criminal offense in order to harm the images of police officers with the intention of publishing them. Criminals will face a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a 45,000 euro ($ 53,000) fine.
The government says the proposal is intended to protect police officers from online calls for violence. Critics fear that, if implemented, the measure would endanger journalists and other observers, who take videos of officers at work, especially during violent demonstrations.
In Paris, several thousand protesters gathered at the Trocadero Square near the Eiffel Tower, saying “freedom, liberty” and “everyone wants to film the police.”
Police used a water canon to disperse the crowd as a minor scuffle occurred at the end of the demonstration. Paris police said 23 people were detained and an officer slightly injured.
Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International France, Human Rights League, journalists’ unions and other groups encouraged people to join the protests. The crowd included many journalists and students.
“We are not here to defend a privilege of our profession, freedom of the press and freedom of journalists,” said Edward Plenell, co-founder and editor of investigative website Mediapart. . “
Some members of the anti-government yellow vest movement also participated in the demonstration.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Ombudsman of France have also expressed concerns that the new provisions may undermine fundamental rights.
In response to the criticism, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that the measure would be amended to specify that it would not “impede freedom of information” and that it was only with a “clear” intent to harm police Will focus on aired images. Officer.
National Journalists Union (SNJ) Secretary-General Emmanuel Poupard said on Saturday that he thinks the new amendment “changes nothing.”
Police image legislation “has only one goal: to promote law enforcement officers’ sense of fairness and create invisible police brutality,” he said.
The protesters argue that recording officers in action is required to be able to condemn and stop violent officers’ actions. He also worries about how the courts will determine if the images were posted with the intent of causing harm.
In July, three French police officers were accused of committing the murder over the death of a delivery man, Cedric Chowitt, who was caught on video. Chauwiat’s death paralleled with the murder of George Floyd in the US state of Minneapolis, which sparked outrage worldwide and led to a series of Black Lives Matter demonstrations in France.
The proposed law is made by the lawmakers of President Emanuel Macron’s party, which has a majority in the national assembly.
Lawmakers are to vote on the bill on Tuesday, including other safeguards. It will then go to the Senate.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This content may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.