French MPs pass contentious security bill restricting images of police

·2-min read

France's National Assembly has approved a law that extends police powers, allowing them to use drones, video surveillance and pedestrian cameras, and restricts the publication of images of police officers on duty.

The global security bill, which passed successfully through the Senate last week, was backed by 75 votes for to 33 against in the National Assembly on Thursday.

In response to fierce criticism from both the public and politicians, lawmakers redrafted the most controversial article of the text, Article 24, which in its original form proposed to alter press freedom laws to ban publication of photos or videos of on-duty police officers.

Under the revised law, the article says that images identifying officers can be punished by up to five years in prison and a 75,000 euro-fine.

The push for the new law came after images of police officers at demonstrations were published on social media which led to online attacks against them and their families.

Interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, hailed the new law as an unprecedented step forward in strengthening the security continuum.

However, opposition MPs who say the law will reduce the ability to expose police violence, have vowed to continue their fight in France's highest court – the Constitutional Council.

Unions representing journalists and lawyers as well as the human rights group, the Ligue des droits de l'Homme have also said they will lodge a separate complaint with the council.

Tens of thousands have protested against the law since November, saying it will prevent journalists and others from reporting police violence and abuse.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International had criticised the French government's drive for the new tranche of rules.

The French branch of the organisation warned on Twitter about the threat to civil liberties and denounced its generalised surveillance practices.

"The text of the law has vague provisions that could allow abusive and unfair legal proceedings," the rights group said.