Clashes in Paris over law that could ban publication of images of French police

Clashes in Paris over law that could ban publication of images of French police
A protester in Paris against the proposed global security bill. Photo: AFP
Clashes broke out between police and demonstrators as thousands took to the streets across France to protest at a proposed new law that could make it illegal to publish images of police officers.

The security bill currently being debated by the French parliament would – among other things – make it an offence to publish photos or films of police officers if it was found there was intent on the part on the part of the publisher to harm the physical or mental integrity of the officer.

READ ALSO France debates bill to restrict photos and videos that identify police officers


Those disseminating the videos, whether on social media or via news sites, would risk one year in prison and a €45,000 fine.


Opponents of the law, including Amnesty and Reporters Without Borders, argue that “intent” is vague and hard to prove, and the law would be open to abuse from police.


Thousands of people around France took to the streets on Tuesday night in protest, and violent clashes broke out in Paris.


After a protest outside the Assemblée nationale, police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse demonstrators, some of whom had set fire to street furniture.

There were also protests around France.

  • In Rennes 300-400 people gathered in the morning.
  • In Lyon around 700 people took part in a protest at the local préfecture
  • In Toulouse around 1,300 demonstrators – including many 'yellow vests' – were dispersed by police using tear gas
  • In Bordeaux 700-800 people gathered including local councillor Antoine Boudinet, who lost a hand during a 'yellow vest' protest in 2018
  • In Grenoble a torch-lit procession of around 800 people demanded a halt to the new law.

The bill has been backed by police unions and the interior minister Gérald Darmanin, but many are concerned that the restrictions would make it impossible to highlight cases of police violence – many of which have come to lights via amateur video footage.

An open letter this month signed by journalists across France, including some from Agence France-Presse, urged lawmakers to reject the new image limits, and protests have been called for outside parliament on Tuesday.

“There's reason to fear that officers who already often try to prevent filming or photographs of their interventions in public areas, including through the use of force — despite it being perfectly legal — will feel even more empowered to do so,” they wrote.

A letter from The UN Human Rights Council this month also warned French authorities the proposal “could discourage, even punish those who could supply elements of potential human rights violations by law enforcement, and provide a sort of immunity.”

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