French Court Rejects Key Article in Macron’s New Security Law

France’s constitutional court blocked a controversial provision in a new security law put forward by Emmanuel Macron’s party that would have made it harder for people to publish images of police officers on duty.

The court said the article was defined too loosely, according to a ruling released Thursday. It would have made it an offense to show the face or identity of officers in action, with a penalty of up to five years in jail and a 75,000-euro fine, if there was an attempt to “damage their physical or psychological integrity.” Provisions on the use of drones and cameras by the police were also struck down.

Macron’s “global security law” led to demonstrations last year, despite a ban on public gatherings during the coronavirus epidemic. The president’s party said the aim was to protect security forces from online incitement to violence. And the move was welcomed by representatives of various police forces which have been under strain amid terrorist attacks, the epidemic and protests.

But human rights defenders, freedom of speech activists and journalists slammed the law, and the article on images in particular, saying it would make documenting police violence much harder.

The bill was adopted by parliament last month, and filed for constitutional review by lawmakers and Prime Minister Jean Castex. The government can still amend the text.

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