French lawmakers to rewrite proposed bill on filming police

Associated Press

Paris– Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s party will rewrite the most criticized article of a proposed security law, involving a measure aimed at banning the publication of images of police officers with intent to cause them harm.

The move comes after tens of thousands of protesters marched Saturday in Paris and across the country to reject the draft law.

In an apparent effort to quell criticism, the head of Macron’s party at the National Assembly, Christophe Castaner, said Monday “there is a need to clarify the measure.”

Youths overturn a construction hut during a demonstration against a security law that would restrict sharing images of police, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020 in Paris.

“We are going to propose a new, complete rewrite of the article 24,” he added.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin refused to simply withdraw the controversial Article 24, saying that events haven’t changed his position.

“I don’t have a fetish for numbers … but I do have a fetish for protecting police and gendarmes,” Darmanin said Monday before a parliamentary commission. Police on special operations “are not protected enough … We must absolutely keep it.”

For him, the controversial article isn’t a hindrance to the media.

“Protecting the police and protecting the press are not in competition,” said the interior minister, who is responsible for the measure. “There is no victory of one without the other.”

Fire-fighters fight a fire on a burning car during a demonstration against a security law that would restrict sharing images of police, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020 in Paris.

In its current version, the article of the proposed law criminalizes the publishing of images of police officers with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity.” Anyone found guilty could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and fined 45,000 euros ($53,000).

The bill, championed by Macron’s party, was first voted on at the National Assembly last week. It is expected to be debated in the Senate early next year.

The government said the measure is needed to better protect police officers from online calls from violence.

Critics fear that if enacted, the law would impinge on freedom of information and media rights. They also say that it could restrict the public from filming police in cases that could be considered abuse or police brutality.