France wants to change security law after protests

After massive protests against the controversial security law and police violence, the government majority in France has given way. The government factions in the lower house of parliament announced on Monday after a crisis meeting in the Élysée Palace in Paris that they wanted to reformulate a particularly harshly criticized article of the security law. This article is intended to restrict the publication of recordings of police operations.

French President Emmanuel Macron had previously urged the government unusually harshly to submit proposals to restore the relationship of trust between the police and the people in the country.

“We are going to propose a complete revision of Article 24,” said Christophe Castaner, parliamentary group leader of the presidential party La République en Marche (LREM) in the National Assembly, after the meeting with Macron. According to reports, this had previously received Prime Minister Jean Castex, the Interior and Justice Minister and the leaders of the majority parliamentary groups in the Élysée Palace. There was initially no confirmation for this. Ex-Interior Minister Castaner now emphasized that the lack of understanding of the public and journalists regarding the text was noticed. You know that there are still doubts.

100,000 took to the streets

According to the authorities, more than 100,000 people took to the streets nationwide at the weekend – they demonstrated, among other things, against the security law. According to the government, the draft law should actually protect the police better. Critics, however, see freedom of the press in jeopardy. Videos of aggressive police operations on the net fueled the debate. Surveillance camera footage showing the brutal crackdown on a music producer and the aggressive evacuation of a refugee camp caused indignation.

The National Assembly actually approved the security law last week. It is now the turn of the Upper House of Parliament, the Senate, to vote on the text. The controversial Article 24 of the law provides that the publication of pictures of security officers in action with the aim of injuring the physical or mental integrity of the police officers is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros can be.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had repeatedly defended the law and had come under pressure during the debate. Individual MPs recently called for the article to be completely deleted. “French society has never been as divided as it is today, and Article 24 contributes to that,” Pierre Person, LREM MP, told Le Parisien newspaper.

In the evening, Darmanin defended the work of the police in the country before a committee of the National Assembly. He did not rule out structural problems. However, he does not believe in a break between the population and the police. But you have to make the difficulties of the police more understandable to people, he said. Darmanin expressed his confidence in the Paris police prefect Didier Lallement, who is under criticism. “He is entrusted with one of the most difficult positions in France.”

The judiciary has now initiated investigations against four security forces because of the brutal police operation against the music producer. Two of them were placed in custody and two were placed under judicial supervision. The lawyer of the attacked music producer said she was “satisfied” on the Franceinfo channel. She pointed out the special importance of videos in investigating police violence. Darmanin said in the committee that when he first saw the videos, he initially thought “they are not real police officers”.

Some police unions, however, assessed the judiciary’s decision, especially with regard to pre-trial detention, as too harsh. It is hoped that this was not due to pressure from the media and that only the elements of the case were taken into account, Thierry Clair of the Unsa police union told the broadcaster.


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