France to rewrite the contested “article 24” on security law

The French parliamentary majority will suspend and “completely rewrite” the hotly contested article 24 of the new security law. The former Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, today group leader at the National Assembly of En Marche, the party of President Emmanuel Macron, said on Monday. The measure known as “Article 24”, part of a “global security” law, would have placed strict limits on the ability of the press to disseminate images of law enforcement officers on duty. Protests against the reform brought tens of thousands of French people to the streets last Saturday.

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The demonstrations resulted in clashes with the police with dozens of arrests and injuries, in a climate of tension aggravated by the beating of a music producer of African origins at the hands of four policemen. Three policemen have been indicted for “intentional violence by a person who holds public authority” and “forging a public document,” the Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz announced yesterday. These are the three agents at the center of Loopsider’s video unveiled Thursday that triggered a national scandal and led President Emmanuel Macron to express his shock.

The police officer, who allegedly thrown tear gas into a music studio in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, was charged with “voluntary violence” on Zecler and nine other boys in the basement of the studio. The prosecution had requested pre-trial detention for the first three and probation for the fourth, but the judge jailed two and left two more under probation.

“This is neither a withdrawal nor a suspension, but a total rewriting of the text,” pounded Castaner, speaking of “a proposal that we will make to the government.” The three majority groups” (LREM, Agir, and MoDem) will implement this new draft as part of a collective effort. From Monday evening, “we will meet the prime minister and interested government members for a first exchange,” he said. “We can, therefore, within this framework and within our respective constitutional prerogatives, discuss the law and the timetable.”

Macron had already met Prime Minister Jean Castex, ministers and heads of majority parliamentary groups at the Elysée at noon on issues of sovereignty, police, and security. For Castaner, the objective is simple: to strengthen the police security but also to guarantee the fundamental right to free information. “We sought the balance on this article 24 was not unanimously perceived, and we acknowledge it,” added Castaner. “When such a misunderstanding continues to intensify on such a fundamental topic, we have to question ourselves collectively,” Castaner explained during a press conference at the Assemblée Nationale.

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