French protest against law prohibiting distribution of images of officers

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Several thousand people demonstrated in the French capital Paris on Saturday against a security law that criminalizes the distribution of images of police officers. Demonstrations were also held in cities such as Lille, Rennes, Marseille, Saint-Étienne and Montpellier.

Law already partly approved by parliament

According to the protesters, the law threatens freedom of expression.

At the end of the afternoon, tensions rose in the Place du Trocadéro in Paris after police ordered the protesters to disperse. Trash cans were set on fire and a number of protesters threw projectiles at police, who in turn responded with the use of water cannons.

Human rights organizations see the bill as a means to restrict freedom of the press and to make an investigation into possible abuse of power by the police impossible. Violators of the law could face a year in prison and a fine of EUR 45,000.

Proponents say that police officers and their family members should be protected from (online) harassment.

Thousands of French people demonstrated against the law, fearing it would restrict freedom of expression. (Photo: ANP).

The bill was partially approved in the French parliament on Friday evening. A final vote will follow early next week. If the proposal is passed, it will become a criminal offense to distribute images of police officers unless their faces are made unrecognizable. In this context it is referred to as a “breach of the physical or psychological integrity” of the security services.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin believes that the law is necessary to also protect those who protect the French. Agents in France have been increasingly targeted by threats and violence in recent times.

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