Reporters without Borders, Amnesty International France, Human Rights League and journalists demonstrate against a proposed new law that would criminalise dissemination of images of police officers.

People protest against controversial
People protest against controversial "global security" draft law seeking to limit the filming of police officers on duty, near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on November 21, 2020. (AFP)

Rights campaigners and journalists organisations have staged street protests in Paris and other French cities against a security bill that they say would be a violation of the freedom of information.

Saturday's protests were called by Reporters without Borders, Amnesty International France, the Human Rights League, journalists' unions, and other groups.

The proposed measure would create a new criminal offence of publishing images of police officers with the intent to cause them harm.

President Emmanuel Macron's government says it is intended to protect police officers from online calls for violence. 

Critics fear that, if enacted, the measure would endanger journalists and other people who take videos of officers at work, especially during violent demonstrations.

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Harsh penalty

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and France's human rights ombudsman has also voiced concerns this week over risks that the measure would undermine fundamental rights.

In response to the criticism, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday an amendment to the measure in order to specify that it "won’t impede the freedom of information" and that it will focus only on images broadcast with "clear" intent to harm a police officer.

Offenders would face a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison and a $53,000 fine.

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Vote on Tuesday 

The proposed law is championed by lawmakers of President Emmanuel Macron’s party, which has a majority in the National Assembly.

Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on Tuesday on the bill, which also includes other security measures. It will then go to the Senate.

French police often face allegations of using brutal tactics when dealing with protesters, but also when confronting or arresting people from Black or Muslim minorities.

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Source: AP