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France Agrees to Completely Rewrite Controversial Article 24 of Global Security Bill


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The French government announced on Monday evening that it will completely rewrite the much-debated Article 24 of a recently proposed bill on global security, which aimed to control the ways in which photos or videos of police officers could be shared. 

In short, the bill would ban the publication of any photo or footage that identified police in any way that was considered ill-intentioned. 

The draft, adopted on Nov. 24, has drawn criticism from journalists, activists, and human rights defenders, who stress that it would severely curtail fundamental rights and press freedoms.

Anti-police brutality organizations also believe that the subjective language of the article leaves it open to interpretation and promotes the impunity of law enforcement officials when they overstep their duties.

At this time, however, the government has not provided details as to the extent of the rewrite — though it has insisted that it was neither a "withdrawal" nor a "suspension" of the entire bill. 

Christophe Castaner, the head of France’s governing party La République en Marche (LRM), added that the amendment would help strike a "balance" between fundamental freedoms and the protection of law enforcement officers — a goal that was already among the priorities of lawmakers when the draft was first adopted.

“The bill will be completely rewritten and a new version will be submitted,” he said in Parliament, according to the BBC. “This new version will be drafted collectively by the three majority parliamentary groups.”

But the rewriting process could further complicate things, given that the bill has already been approved by France's lower house and is now in the hands of the Senate, which is set to discuss it in January.

Opposition parties say a new draft is not enough and are calling for the bill to be scrapped altogether.

"This is a first step. But we want the article and of the whole global security’ bill to be withdrawn," said Fabien Roussel, national secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF), to the Monde.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country rallied against police brutality by protesting in the streets of Paris over the weekend. Demonstrators expressed outrage over the assault of Michel Zecler, a Black music producer who was beaten by the Paris police, and over the violent eviction of a refugee camp set up on Place de la République on Nov. 23.

The United Nations and France’s own human rights ombudsman also slammed the bill, citing concerns about potential human rights violations and a drift towards excessive “securitarianism."