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FRANCE: “Global Security” Law: the Constitutional Council censures ex-Article 24 aimed at punishing the dissemination of images of police officers 

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– Article written by ECF on 21 May 2021.

 

Yesterday, the French Constitutional Council decided to largely censor the most controversial article in the recently adopted Global Security Law. This article, which became Article 52 once the law was passed in the National Assembly, sparked demonstrations and actions by advocates for civic freedoms 

In a statement published yesterday, the coalition StopLoiSecuriteGlobale welcomed the decision to revoke this article, stating that this is an undeniable victory for a group of human rights organisations […] which, since last November, has constantly denounced the liberticidal nature of this text. In their statement, the coalition reminded that they submitted over 20 referrals to the Constitutional Council, opposing the law.  

Some other measures adopted by the Parliament were also censored by the Constitutional Council, among which the use of drones by police for surveillance purposes, considered as “too intrusive” by the Council.  

Immediately after this decision, French Minister of Interior Gérald Darmanin announced on Twitter that he “will submit to the Prime Minister measures to improve the provisions that are subject to reservations by the Constitutional Council. 

On the other hand, the Coalition warned about the numerous articles that remained in the law and will be effective within a few months, such as:  

  • the reinforcement of the powers of the municipal police to search luggage and carry out security searches; 
  • the extension of the public surveillance tasks of private security guards in the fight against terrorism; 
  • the extension of access to CCTV images by law enforcement agencies, including private building halls. This decision stigmatises parts of the population from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, where building halls represent a place of refuge.  
  • the authorisation for police and gendarmes to be armed, off duty, in an establishment open to the public, thereby strengthening the phenomenon of militarisation of the public space.