Matignon tries to calm tensions with the press

Arrests, violence, new rules potentially undermining the freedom to inform… Nothing works between the press and the authorities. In recent days, relations between the editorial staff and the Ministry of the Interior have deteriorated particularly. To the point of forcing the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, to regain control of the proposed law on “global security”, and to give pledges to journalists, headwaters against the text. It must be said that discontent rises even in the majority against Article 24, which punishes any fine of 45,000 euros and one year’s imprisonment for any dissemination of an image allowing the identification of an official of the forces of the order, when it is revealed “For the purpose of harming his physical or mental integrity”.

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At the end of a meeting between the Prime Minister, the leader of the deputies La République en Marche, Christophe Castaner, and the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, Matignon said he was ready, Thursday, November 19, to add in the form of an amendment an additional formula intended “Guarantee the freedom of the press”, specifying “That the envisaged provisions will not constitute an obstacle to the freedom to inform”. This mention does not change the situation: freedom of the press is guaranteed by the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Numerous clashes

Another concession intended to calm the spirits, Matignon also wishes to add the adverb “manifestly”, in order to clarify the broad and vague notion “Attack on physical and mental integrity”, which leaves the field open to all assessments, and allowed any police or army officer concerned by a video to challenge it. Here again, such a modification to the initial text should not change things. “As long as we keep this notion of ‘psychological integrity’, which takes on a form of unpredictability, we remain on an offense liable to infringe freedom of expression”, analyzes a lawyer specializing in press matters, who anticipates a rain of certificates of convenience, attesting to the damages “Psychic” suffered by possible suspects.

If the press is protected by its statute, this is not the case for the individuals covered by this article 24. The aim is to dissuade them from making public videos taken during police interventions. However, recently, it is indeed images taken by amateurs that have brought to light police violence. Like the 1is May 2018, when Taha Bouhafs, who has since become a reporter, filmed the clashes at Place de la Contrescarpe in Paris, where a certain Alexandre Benalla appeared, at the time advisor to Emmanuel Macron …

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