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“Global security” law: the government will amend its copy

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Gérald Darmanin proposes to introduce an amendment guaranteeing the freedom of the press in the proposed law “comprehensive security”, examined in the Assembly. The text, supported by the police unions, was strongly contested by journalists.

Faced with all-out controversies over the right to information, the executive announced that it was amending the controversial measure of the “global security” bill framing the image of the police, by guaranteeing the freedom to inform. The controversial article number 24 of the text of LREM and its ally Agir, which must be examined this Friday in the hemicycle, will, on “proposal of the Minister of the Interior”, “be the subject of a government amendment”, Matignon said in a press release published after a meeting between Prime Minister Jean Castex, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and the leader of the walking deputies, Christophe Castaner.

This amendment will specify “that the envisaged provisions will not constitute an obstacle to the freedom to inform and that the offense created by the text will only cover the fact of disseminating images with the aim of manifestly affecting physical integrity or psychic “of a policeman, a soldier or a gendarme, indicates Matignon. From LREM source, it is specified that there will be at the beginning of the article the mention: “without prejudice to the right to inform”.

Faced with the pressure and anxious to keep control in this game of chess between Place Beauvau and the majority, Gérald Darmanin had already announced a few hours before that the government was going to table an amendment specifying the controversial article, “in order to (the ) get the vote by the largest majority to protect our police forces “.

Support of police unions, opposition of journalists

In its current wording, it plans to penalize one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for the dissemination of “the image of the face or any other identifying element” of a police officer or a gendarme in intervention. when the aim is to “undermine his physical or mental integrity”. Supported by the police unions and the right, the measure makes journalists and defenders of public freedoms jump.

Gérald Darmanin had promised to clarify “as the text already provides, that the freedom of the press is of course not threatened” and will further characterize the intention to harm the police, according to his entourage. A way to take a step in the direction of some of the opponents of the text, without turning your back on the police.

In a message sent Thursday evening to the majority deputies, Christophe Castaner confirmed the tabling of amendments to “reaffirm both our support for the police and our attachment to press freedom”. And ultimately bring “clarity”. Gérald Darmanin “heard the desire of the deputies to be clearer to be sure that the article is not distorted in the interpretation that one makes of it”, welcomed a parliamentary source LREM.

“The tensions had become too important”, with “excesses for 48 hours” on journalists, hence “the group’s very strong desire to obtain guarantees”, loose an LREM deputy. These amendments will “make it possible to bring together”.

Gérald Darmanin, during a visit to a fire station at the Passage d'Agen, July 7, 2020.

Gérald Darmanin, during a visit to a fire station at the Passage d’Agen, July 7, 2020.
Photo DDM archives – Guillaume Bears

Clashes in front of the Assembly

Other avenues for deleting the article or referral of the debate to the bill on “separatism”, which should create an offense repressing hatred online as well as specific sanctions for pressure exerted on agents state or elected officials, were therefore excluded.

“Darmanin weighed in not to delete article 24”, according to a source close to the file.
Within the majority, voices were heard to change the drafting to recall the “freedom of the press”, like the deputy LREM Roland Lescure, spokesperson for the presidential movement.

Others had pleaded for more pedagogy on a text “really defensible”, according to a Parisian deputy. Others among the marchers are more critical of the host of Place Beauvau, accused of blowing hot and cold around the proposed law as on the right to information. “Darmanin is not very attentive to the deputies and it shows. And it changes the opinions of the government a little according to the atmosphere in the hemicycle”, comments a parliamentary source. For a Macronist deputy, on condition of anonymity, “Gérald Darmanin is a sarkozyst, ready to do anything to go up, including to say anything”.

Friday, the Minister of the Interior had wanted to harden the text by imposing the blurring of the police before giving up. On Wednesday, he aroused the ire of journalism professionals after comments about the clashes that occurred during a rally against the proposed law and the arrest of a journalist from France 3.

Gérald Darmanin had declared that journalists “must approach the authorities” before the events they want to cover, before specifying in the evening that there was “no obligation”.

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