France: carte blanche for police violence?
The French parliament passed parts of a new security law in its first reading on Friday. Under the new legislation pictures of members of the police forces will no longer be allowed to be distributed publicly, while the police will receive greater powers regarding camera surveillance and weapons. The proposed law has provoked fierce protest from the media and civil organizations, and this is reflected in the commentary columns.
Incompatible with freedom of the press
Les Echos publishes an open letter from numerous senior media representatives vehemently opposed to the law:
“We are worried that the minister of the interior is seeking to undermine the freedom of the press at demonstrations. ... His proposal on how journalists should be protected amounts to supervising and controlling their work. This move has a particularly worrying connection with the proposed law on comprehensive security, which restricts the circulation of images of police officers. It cannot be that journalists have to report to police headquarters whenever they want to cover a demonstration. Nor should they need accreditation to go freely about their work in public spaces. We will not have our journalists accredited for reporting on demonstrations.”
Put a stop to authoritarianism
This debate touches on the most fundamental questions of how a democracy should be organised, writes an alliance against police violence in Mediapart:
“The unbridled authoritarianism and the surveillance society being promoted by this draft law must be stopped. But it is also important to break with the disastrous security options of the past fifteen years, which have only exacerbated the violence they were meant to reduce. Priority must now be given to the role of the police, the management of public order and de-escalation. ... What kind of police do we need? Does our security depend solely on them? ... Restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of information, freedom of movement - what kind of democracy are we talking about here?”