France to Revise “Global Security Bill” After Protests

  • The article would limit and penalize the dissemination of pictures of police officers when they are in the line of duty.
  • France's former Interior Minister, has recognized that the controversy surrounding the text of the disputed article forces the government to act.
  • France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin refused to simply withdraw the controversial Article 24, saying that events haven’t changed his position.

The French government has backed down on its proposal to the National Assembly regarding its “Global Security Bill,” and instead asked that it be revised with immediate effect. In particular, a controversial article of the bill, designed to protect the police force, should be changed, the government argued.

People with banners and posters attend a demonstration against the “Global Security Bill’ that rights groups say would make it a crime to circulate an image of a police officer’s face and would infringe journalists’ freedom in France, in Paris, November 28, 2020.

The article would limit and penalize the dissemination of pictures of police officers when they are in the line of duty.

The controversial clause had generated a lot of “misunderstanding,” which sparked violent demonstrations throughout the country, with masses expressing their anger over the same. 

In communication aimed at quelling criticism, the head of President Emmanuel Macron’s party at the National Assembly, Christophe Castaner, on Monday announced that “there is a need to clarify the measure.”

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

As per the controversial article, the offense attracts a fine of up to €45,000 and a one-year prison sentence for the dissemination of the face or images that identify a policemen on social media networks with the intention to physically or psychologically harm the police men/women. 

Following the recent approval of the law at first reading in the lower house, protests erupted all over France. The opposition has already voiced its opposition to the law and called for its suspension. 

On their part, journalists and human rights organizations assure that the said article would impede their work. Owing to the controversies generated by the proposed law, thousands of citizens took to the streets over the weekend in opposition to the same, in marches that ended up in riots.

Criticism and Protests Against the Text

Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron is a French politician serving as President of the French Republic since 2017. Macron was appointed a deputy secretary general by President Francois Hollande shortly after his election in May 2012, making Macron one of Hollande’s senior advisers.

Castaner, France’s former Interior Minister, has recognized that the controversy surrounding the text of the disputed article forces the government to act.

“We propose a new version of article 24 and a new version will be submitted,” Castaner told a news conference.

However, the politician has admitted that the “balance” that was sought in the preparation of the text “has not been unanimously perceived.” Castaner added:

“We acknowledge that there are doubts, that some people consider that the right to inform is under threat. The bill has not been understood by everyone and there were doubts among journalists, French people, and even within our own majority. That is why it is necessary to clarify it.”

The announcement comes after the meeting at the Elysee between President Macron and the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, the heads of the Interior and Justice, and those responsible for the majority parliamentary groups that the government leads.

On his part, however, France’s 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,” Darmanin said Monday before a parliamentary commission, “but I do have a fetish for protecting police and gendarmes.” Police on special operations “are not protected enough,” Darmanin added. “We must absolutely keep it.”

As per the minister’s opinion, the controversial article isn’t an obstacle to the media in any way whatsoever.

“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.”

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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