A Controversy of “Global Security” - The New French Law

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

by Alba

Image: Caroline Mecary


This year, civil unrest has had its fair share of exposure in the media's headlines as anti-police brutality protests grew in size and decibels across the globe. It is in this context that a new bill has been introduced in France. Known as the “global security law”, it has sparked further turmoil in the nation of “liberty, equality, and fraternity”.


The law on “securité globale”, introduced by Jean-Michel Fauvergue and Alice Thourot, comprises 32 articles revolving around various aspects of security. Two in particular have been cause for concern for the French people; Articles 22 and 24. It is the latter that has received global attention.


Article 24 of the new global security law makes it illegal to diffuse video footage of police where any identifiable feature is visible. An amendment was later submitted permitting badge identification to be released. Violation of Article 24 would result in a 45,000 euro fine, and 1 year of imprisonment. As of now, according to Parisian police; “A policeman cannot object to being filmed on public property ” - however, this would change if this law were to pass. The law would prevent videos where officers' faces are not blurred from being posted online, making officers unrecognizable. This lack of accountability has caused public outcry in France.


The bill has been a cause for concern for journalist unions, the Human Rights League, advocates for Amnesty International, and many French citizens. These organizations came together on Saturday November 21 to protest against the bill, and the amendments in particular. 22,000 people expressed their disagreement with the articles across France - 7,000 in Paris alone. Signs reading “global security = freedom of oppression”, and “blurred policemen, blinded justice” dotted the iconic Parisian vista at Place du Trocadero.


Journalists argue that article 24 would infringe on their right to inform, a fundamental right defended by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. France’s Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, was quick to clarify that article 24 “does not in any way violate the freedom of the press and the freedom to inform” and that, “A journalist or a citizen who films a police operation can of course continue to do so. On the other hand, those who accompany their images with a call to violence, by disseminating the names and addresses of our police officers, will no longer be able to do so.” However, some believe that the law remains unclear on this, and uncertainty is widespread even amongst politicians supporting the clause. On November 4th Fauvergue stated that the article would not “impose blurring [of the faces]” . He was contradicted 9 days later by Darmanin who stated that “If you want to broadcast [videos of police] on the internet in a barbaric way, you will have to blur the faces of the police”.


Police unions have expressed their approval for the law, and continue to push for badge numbers to be censored from footage as well. The new laws come in the wake of promises made by President Emmanuel Macron as he wrote on Twitter: “We will never accept violence and disrespect towards our police” and “...we are going to step up resources and protect them better. Like all French people, we count on them”.


The Global Security Law arrives at a time when the police force and its methods are volatile topics. Just 5 months ago, thousands gathered to protest police brutality in France, citing the deaths of people such as Adama Traoré, and Gaye Camara. Mistrust of the police is widespread, and many in the public do not share in Thourots sentiment of “protecting those who protect us”.

 

Alba is a full-time OnJustice Group member

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