In a letter to the Chair and members of the Law Committee of the French Senate, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, urges the senators to make substantial amendments to the General Security Bill to make it more human rights-compliant.
The Commissioner invites the senators to remove the ban, imposed by Article 24 of the bill, on disseminating images of the faces of law enforcement officers engaged in police operations, or any other means of identifying them, with the clear intent to do them physical or psychological harm. “This ban is an infringement of the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to impart information, and is liable to exacerbate the breakdown of trust between a section of the population and some parts of the law enforcement agencies, which will not help to protect the latter”, says the Commissioner. She points out that the European Court of Human Rights has acknowledged the crucial role played by the media in informing the public about the management of public demonstrations by the authorities and considers that the infringement by Article 24 of the freedom to impart information is especially unjustified in view of the fact that law enforcement officers are already protected from such harm by many existing legal provisions.
The Commissioner also recommends measures to enhance the right to privacy. This implies placing stricter limits on the conditions listed in Articles 20 to 20ter of the bill regarding access to CCTV footage of public spaces and certain private spaces.