Brussels (Brussels Morning) Protests have erupted in France over a new security law that would outlaw publication of images of police officers on duty, with several clashes having broken out, RFI reported on Saturday.
Paris authorities had demanded that the protest be limited to one location, but officials acceded to a march from the Place de la République to the Place de la Bastille on Friday evening. Elsewhere, according to police accounts, some 3,500 protesters gathered in Nantes, although organisers claim between 6,000 and 7,000 attended the demonstration.
In Montpellier, the official figure stands at 3,800, while organisers put the crowd at some 5,000, and in Bordeaux officials estimated the number of protesters at 6,000.
The protests come in the wake of the recent widely viewed incident of police violence involving officers beating and racially abusing Michel Zecler, a black man. An investigation is now underway against the four officers involved. French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the incident, saying that it shamed France.
Critics of the new security law stress that had it been in force it would have prohibited publication of the images of the beating. According to the newly proposed rules, publication of images of officers on duty with the intention to harm their “physical or psychological integrity” would be criminalised.
Offenders could face sentences of up to one year and fines of up to 45,000 euro for sharing images. The lower chamber of the French parliament has passed the new law, which now awaits approval of the upper house.
The government stresses that the new law is aimed at protecting police officers from abuse online. At the same time, media unions warn that new rules could allow police to prevent journalists and citizens from documenting police violence, citing the beating of Michel Zecler.
France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex indicated on Friday that the government could be willing to walk back the new law by proposing a commission to redraft the controversial Article 24. Castex withdrew the proposal after Speaker Richard Ferrand accused him of usurping the role of parliament.