Several thousand people took part in a protest in Paris today, Saturday, against the “comprehensive security” bill, which would criminalize publishing pictures of police officers with the intention of harming them. Media and activists considered that the aim is to restrict media censorship of the government.
Supporters of the bill say police officers and their families need protection from online harassment, or direct harassment while off duty. Opponents say it will violate journalists’ freedom to reveal the facts, and make it difficult to hold police officers accountable for any violations, including the excessive use of force, which is an increasingly alarming matter.
The new law punishes violators with up to one year in prison, in addition to a 45,000 euro fine.
Most of the unions in the media sector have signed joint petitions protesting the law.
French legal scholars questioned the basis of this law, which they saw as a way for the government to try to avoid accountability, as the French constitutional expert Patrick Weil said, “If the law is passed, you will not be able to shoot a video showing the killing of George Floyd in France.”
Activists, trade unionists and journalists chanted during the protest in a square in western Paris, the slogan “Everyone wants to photograph the police.”
Some held banners saying “We will leave our phones when you drop your weapons.”
Some are planning to organize similar protests in Marseille, Lille, Montpellier, Rennes and Saint-Etienne.