PARIS | Thousands of people gathered on Saturday in several cities in France to denounce a law in preparation deemed liberticidal by the organizers, in a country shaken since Thursday by a new case of police violence which puts the government under pressure.
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Journalists’ organizations, left-wing parties, unions, NGOs for the defense of public freedoms had called for demonstrations against this text denounced as attacking freedom of expression and the rule of law, with, as usual, violence sporadic in some processions.
At the heart of the dispute, which has spilled over into a political crisis, are three articles of the “Comprehensive Security” bill, which already received a green light from the National Assembly last week, governing the dissemination of the bill. image of police officers, the use of drones and pedestrian cameras of the police.
“This bill aims to undermine the freedom of the press, the freedom to inform and be informed, the freedom of expression, in short the fundamental public freedoms of our Republic”, judges the coordination calling at gatherings.
“Blur of mouth”, “Who will protect us from the ferocious of order? “Lower your guns, we’ll lower our cameras,” read the signs.
Article 24, which has focused attention, punishes one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for the “malicious” dissemination of images of police and gendarmes. The government argues that this provision is intended to protect police officers who are victims of hate calls and murder on social media.
But critics argue that much police violence would have gone unpunished if it had not been captured by journalists ‘cameras and citizens’ smartphones.
If last week, for the previous mobilization against the text, only 22,000 people demonstrated, they should be more numerous this Saturday, as the subject of police violence has become so hot.
Two cases revealed by videos this week have turned a tough patch for the government into a real crisis.
On Monday, during a media operation by pro-migrant organizations, the police brutally evacuated those who had settled in a square in central Paris, also manhandling journalists under the watchful eye of cameras and smart phones.
But the climax was reached Thursday after the publication of CCTV images showing the beating of a black man, a music producer, by three police officers.
The press, social networks and some big names in sport have risen up. “Images which make us ashamed”, admitted Friday evening President Emmanuel Macron, who had already asked Thursday for very clear sanctions against the accused police officers.
The French and foreign press denounced “a security drift”, “violations of rights”. Among the critical voices, the defender of rights, the human rights rapporteurs at the UN … The debate was also invited to the European Parliament.
“What I expect is that the President of the Republic hears all the organizations (the European Commission, the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the Constitutional Council, the Defender of Rights), all those and all those who are guarantors of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, and that he withdraws this global security law, which is liberticidal ”, asked the ecologist MEP Yannick Jadot at the start of the demonstration.
In addition to the traditional structures of the left, trade unions, or civil society who will demonstrate, many personalities have joined the call to demonstrate on Saturday, now placed under “the refusal that France is the country of police violence and attacks on freedom to inform ”.
As very regularly now in demonstrations in France, thugs have provoked violence, sporadic, in certain processions.
In Paris, demonstrators dressed in black overturned a van, used fences and other objects in a construction site to make barricades, threw projectiles at the police, noted an AFP journalist, and street furniture. was set on fire.
In Rennes (West), the end of the event was also peppered with incidents.