Pauline Adès-Mével, editor-in-chief of the journalist NGO Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Without Borders), said the government’s decision to rewrite security measures in controversial Article 24 was “in the right direction”.
The measure proposed to consider as an offense the fact of filming and identifying agents online if there is “intention to harm their physical or psychological integrity”.
He says violators face up to a year in prison and a fine of € 45,000.
But opponents say the story’s ambiguity has raised concerns that it will allow police to arrest journalists at work – for example, by reporting live from a crime scene.
Adès-Mével told Euronews on Tuesday: “We fully understand what the police expect and we understand that the police must be protected, but the burden is currently on press freedom and journalists.
“So we need measures that allow journalists to do their job on the ground without being prevented from going to live, or being seen as intending to harm. ”
She said the main concern of French journalists was that the “intent to harm” provision would prevent them from doing their job.
“This ‘intention to harm’ whatever it is is a slippery step,” she said.
“How do you know what a reporter will do with their photos?” So if a policeman prevents a journalist from filming… he will not be able to continue filming, and that will have a frightening effect.
“This is one of the main things we fear, in addition to multiple arrests on the ground for journalists. ”
In an apparent effort to quell the unrest, President Macron’s party leader in the National Assembly, Christophe Castaner, agreed to a complete rewrite to clarify the bill.
The French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, defended his position before a parliamentary committee and refused a total withdrawal of the bill.
“I don’t have a fetish for numbers but I have a fetish to protect the police and gendarmes,” he said.
“Protecting the police and protecting press freedom are not in competition but complementary. There is no victory for one against the other and no victory for one without the other. ”
Supporters say the article – passed by the lower house last week – will protect police from harassment and targeting on social media.