France to ‘rewrite’ controversial police bill after protests

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Lawmakers in President Macron’s ruling party have said they will propose a “complete rewrite” of part of a bill that would restrict police filming, following a massive scandal.

Police drag a man on the ground during a demonstration on November 28, 2020 against a bill that criminalizes the posting of images of police officers on duty. (AFP)

The French government has dropped a controversial bill that would have restricted the right to film police officers in action, the chairman of French President’s ruling party Emmanuel Macron has said.

“The bill will be completely rewritten and a new version will be submitted,” said Christophe Castaner, leader of the LaRem party in the French parliament at a press conference.

“We know questions persist” about the measure, which is part of new legislation passed by the National Assembly last week, Castaner said at a press conference alongside other lawmakers.

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Bill Dents freedom of speech

Human rights activists and journalist organizations staged street protests in Paris and other French cities against the security bill they say violates freedom of information .

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

The proposed measure could create a new criminal offense of posting images of police officers with the intention of harming them.

President Macron’s government previously said it was intended to protect police officers from calls for online violence.

Critics feared the measure could endanger journalists and others who take videos of officers at work, especially during violent protests.

READ MORE: French police accused of beating black music producer

Police officers accused of beating a black man

Earlier Monday, four French police officers were charged with the beating of a black man in Paris, including two detainees.

The investigating judge on Monday indicted three people with “deliberate violence on the part of a person in public authority” and “forgery”.

Two of the defendants – including the highest ranking, a 44-year-old police sergeant – will remain behind bars but the other two have been released on condition, a judicial source told AFP, asking not to be named.

A video released by the Loopsider website shows how music producer Michel Zecler was repeatedly beaten by three officers for several minutes and subjected to racial abuse as he attempted to enter his music studio at the start of the month.

Commentators say footage of the beating – first published by the Loopsider news site – may never have been made public had the contentious section 24 of the safety legislation been passed.

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Source: Reuters

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