Proposed security law "should be comprehensively revised" as it is "incompatible" with international fundamental human rights and rewriting one or two articles will not be sufficient, UN special rapporteurs tell Paris.

People with banners and posters attend a demonstration against the
People with banners and posters attend a demonstration against the "Global Security Bill' that rights groups say would infringe journalists' freedom in France, in Paris, on November 28, 2020. (Reuters)

A group of independent United Nations experts has urged France to revise its proposed security law, branding it "incompatible" with international human rights legislation.

The five UN special rapporteurs, who do not speak for the global body but report their findings to the Human Rights Council, said on Thursday the draft law "should be comprehensively revised."

"Images of police abuse captured by the public play a vital role in oversight of public institutions, which is fundamental to the rule of law," said the special rapporteurs, including the UN's top experts on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the protection of human rights while countering terrorism.

"Simply rewriting Article 24 will not solve its flaws, and the provision is certainly not the only one that infringes on fundamental human rights," they added.

On controversial Article 22 of the bill, they said that permitting drone surveillance for security and counter-terrorism would allow "widespread surveillance, in particular of demonstrators."

"This has serious implications for the right to privacy, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression," they said.

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Controversial bill and protests 

The bill's Article 22 would allow drone surveillance for security purposes, while Article 24 would criminalise publishing images of on-duty police with the intent of harming their "physical or psychological integrity."

The French government has come under increasing pressure to scrap or revise the bill as outrage has grown over a highly publicised case of police violence.

Four French police officers were charged this week after being caught on camera beating Black music producer Michel Zecler and showering him with racial abuse.

Thousands demonstrated against the proposals, on the weekend, as some rallies turned violent with police force, leaving dozens injured.

Though the UN experts welcomed a planned rewrite of Article 24, they urged the French government to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the entire bill's compatibility with international law.

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Source: AFP