Thousands of protesters took to the streets in France on Saturday to protest a controversial new bill that would ban the taking of police images and increase surveillance.
The legislation, which is pending in the French Parliament, aims to protect police officers from violence online, according to the government.
But it has received condemnation from civil rights activists and journalist groups, while France has received warnings from the EU and the UN.
What does article 24 stipulate?
The new article would modify the current legislation to make it a crime to show the face or identity of any officer on duty “in order to damage his physical or psychological integrity.”
The crime would carry a prison sentence of up to one year and a maximum fine of 45,000 euros.
The amendment to France’s global security legislation was proposed in October by President Emmanuel Macron’s party, The Republic on the Move.
The French Parliament rejected a similar proposal earlier this year, but the global security bill was approved by the lower house of the National Assembly on Tuesday, where Macron’s party has the majority.
What do your critics say?
The bill has been widely criticized by journalists and human rights groups who argue that it would restrict press freedom and lead to less accountability for the police.
Opponents of the legislation are concerned that if enacted, it risks endangering journalists and others who film officers at work, especially during violent protests.
They claim that documenting and sharing the actions of violent police officers is essential to stopping future incidents of police brutality.
Critics worry that the courts will decide whether the images are shared on the Internet with “intent to harm” or not.
Besides of violent incident this week in Paris, four French officers were charged with manslaughter in July after the death of Cedric Chouviat, a delivery man, which viewers filmed and shared.
Who has spoken out against the law?
NGOs, including Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International France and the League for Human Rights, as well as unions representing journalists, were among those who encouraged people to attend the protests.
On Saturday, thousands of people flocked to the capital of Paris, and this weekend demonstrations were held in other French cities, such as Nantes and Lyon.
Among the crowd in Paris were journalists and students. Members of the yellow vest anti-government movement were also reported in attendance.
The EU reminded France on Monday that journalists must be able to “work freely and in complete safety”, warning that it will scrutinize the country’s controversial security bill to make sure it complies with EU laws.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and France’s own human rights defender have also said that the new article runs the risk of undermining fundamental rights.