France: “Global security” and “war of images” on the MEPs menu from Tuesday

The war of images between law enforcement defenders and proponents of police burrs is invited to the National Assembly, which is examining from Tuesday a controversial LREM text planning to frame the dissemination of the image of police officers and gendarmes.

Presented by the majority party and its ally Agir, the draft law global security was initially intended to be the legislative translation of a parliamentary report devoted to the security continuum with, at the key, new prerogatives for municipal police and the structuring of the private security sector.

But Place Beauvau took the opportunity to come and boost this text with new security measures designed to respond to the recriminations of police unions.

This is no longer a parliamentarians bill but a real government bill, we rash on the right and left.

For Mr Darmanin, as for the two co-rapporteurs of the text, Jean-Michel Fauvergue and Alice Thourot, it is a question of protecting those who protect us, the forces of law enforcement, faced with a rise of mistrust and even violence.

In their viewfinder, according to Mr Fauvergue, former boss of the RAID, an elite unit of the national police: the war of images that authority, the state in particular, is losing, while accusations of police violence have multiplied in the wake of the movement of the yellow vests.

In order to regain ground, the majority drafted several provisions in the bill, the most controversial of which is Article 24.

It provides for a penalty of one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for the dissemination of the image of the face or any other identification element of a police officer or gendarme in intervention when the latter is intended to harm his physical or mental integrity.

The measure is pouncing representatives of journalists and defenders of public liberties, who criticize a serious infringement of press law.

On the left, the LFI Danièle Obono denounces the risk of self-censorship. For the socialist Hervé Saulignac, there are red lines not to cross. The text pushes all the sliders, even Sarkozy had never gone this far.

It is not at all prohibited under article 24 to film internal security forces intervening, tried to clear Christophe Castaner, leader of the LREM deputies and former Minister of the Interior.

According to Mr Fauvergue, the measure aims to prevent cabals against members of the law enforcement agencies on social networks, and does not impose blurring.

The restriction does not apply to the registration number, known as RIO — which a police officer or constable is supposed to carry in intervention.

But Gerald Darmanin put a piece in the machine on Friday, arguing for a hardening of the text.

If you want to spread on the Internet in a wild way, sorry to say it like that, you will have to blur the faces of police and gendarmes, said the Interior Minister, honouring a promise to law enforcement officials.

We will have debates… in the Assembly and in the Senate, we will have the opportunity to improve the text if necessary, he added.

However, his entourage told AFP that the government would not be tabling an amendment to section 24.

LR MPs, who support the text as well as the RN, tabled an amendment similar to the position publicly expressed by the minister, who, according to parliamentary sources, has taken back a good part of the walkers.

They will not be able to count on their Modem allies who want to remove the measure, and express their serious reservations about other provisions of the text.

MP LREM Said Ahamada announced his intention not to vote on this article counterproductive by throwing an illegitimate doubt on all police interventions.

Another under the guise of anonymity concedes his skepticism about the future of such a provision in case of referral to the Constitutional Council.

More than 1,300amendments have been tabled on the text.