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Protests Staged Across France Against Bill on Police Images

Protests Staged Across France Against Bill on Police Images

Saturday, 21 November, 2020 - 12:15
A demonstrator wearing a gas mask holds a banner representing the Nazi flag with the portrait of French President Emmanuel Macron on it during a protest by the National Assembly against the security bill in Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. French lawmakers start debating Tuesday a security bill that would ban the publication of images of police officers with intent to cause them harm, a measure that provokes outrage from journalist organizations and rights campaigners. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Rights campaigners and journalists organizations staged street protests in Paris and other French cities on Saturday against a security bill that they say would be a violation of the freedom of information.


The proposed measure would create a new criminal offense of publishing images of police officers with intent to cause them harm.


The government says it is intended to protect police officers from online calls for violence. Critics fear that, if enacted, the measure would endanger journalists and other people who take videos of officers at work, especially during violent demonstrations.


Saturday's protests were called by Reporters without Borders, Amnesty International France, the Human Rights League, journalists´ unions, and other groups.


The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and France´s human rights ombudsman have also voiced concerns this week over risks that the measure would undermine fundamental rights.


In response to the criticism, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Thursday an amendment to the measure in order 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.


Offenders would face a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison and a 45,000-euro ($53,000) fine.


The proposed law is championed by lawmakers of President Emmanuel Macron´s party, which has a majority in the National Assembly.


Lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday on the bill, which also includes other security measures. It will then go to the Senate.


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