18 Dec 2020 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 09 Nov 2020 n° 137/2020 France

Bill on Global Security Threatens Press Freedom

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
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The National Assembly's Laws Committee adopted a bill on "global security" tabled by the government's majority. This text is due to be considered under the fast-track procedure on 17 November. In statements to the press and during a hearing held at the National Assembly on 2 November, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin confirmed that the proposed law was being carried out "in full collaboration with the government" with the aim of "strengthening the police". The minister stressed that he had promised "to forbid the dissemination of images of police officers and gendarmes on social networks". Article 24 of the bill provides, among other things, to supplement the law of 29 July 1881 on freedom of the press as follows: "Dissemination of face images or any other identifying element of an officer belonging to the national police or the gendarmerie acting in the context of a policing operation, by any means whatsoever and on any medium whatsoever, with the aim of causing harm to his or her physical or psychological integrity, shall be punishable by one year's imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros". The Human Rights League and organisations representing journalists in France and around the world consider that this bill aims to disproportionately restrict the rights of journalists and freedom of the press. According to the Human Rights League, "It would allow for the arrest, placement in police custody and court referral of any journalist filming live a police operation . (...) This text also aims to prevent the revelation of cases of illegitimate police violence often covered up by the hierarchy of the officers involved".
25 Nov 2020
On 24 November 2020, the National Assembly adopted the bill in the first reading. The bill is expected to go before the Senate and must also receive a referral before the Constitutional Council before it comes into effect.
Additional Information
18 Dec 2020
On 15 December 2020, in a letter to the Chair and members of the Law Committee of the French Senate, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights urges the senators to make substantial amendments to the General Security Bill to make it more human rights-compliant.
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