Comprehensive Security Law: “Will Prevent Journalists From Working,” Warns the SNJ

General News
Demonstrators gathered in Rennes on Tuesday, November 17, to protest against the proposed law on comprehensive security.

INTERVIEW:The proposal for a comprehensive security law, which plans to penalize the dissemination of images of security forces intervening, makes Dominique Pradalié, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), jump

  • The deputies began on Tuesday the examination of the comprehensive security bill, article 24 of which provides for penalizing one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for the dissemination of “the image of the face or any other element of identification “of a police officer or a gendarme in intervention when the aim is to” undermine his physical or mental integrity “.
  • “Between the handsome gentlemen who write beautiful texts and the reality on the ground, there is an ocean” laments the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), Dominique Pradalié.

It is a law that arouses strong reactions, and outrageous even to the UN. The parliamentarians began this Tuesday the examination of the comprehensive security bill, article 24 of which provides for penalizing one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros for the dissemination of “the image of the face or any other element of identification “of a police officer or a gendarme in intervention when the aim is to” harm his physical or psychological integrity “. A text that makes the journalists’ unions jump, who demonstrated on Tuesday 17th November . Interview with the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), Dominique Pradalié.

What is the problem with this bill?

What poses a problem are two points: Article 24 which risks de facto prohibiting journalists from filming the police in public places, in the street, under penalty of imprisonment. And article 22 which generalizes the use of surveillance drones in demonstrations, in terrorism cases or any other matter involving suspicion of criminal offences. There are already pedestrian cameras on the police, then we will have drones, and it will be very easy to see a journalist in a demonstration who approaches people to talk to them. And it’s called sources, the people we talk to *. This will allow the identification of sources. All this justifies the demonstration on Tuesday.

You believe that the text risked prohibiting journalists from “filming  the police. However, the text speaks well of prohibiting the “diffusion  , and the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin repeated this Tuesday again that it is not the fact of filming which would be punished. Does his answer not reassure you?

Not at all. Over the past two years we have had 200 journalists who have been prevented from working, and this was documented on video. There were 116 cases noted by David Dufresne [the journalist who specialized in police violence and director of the documentary A country that keeps itself wise ] To which we must add the journalists who contacted us, who did not want to appear openly. And these are not “street journalists”: we are talking about the newspaper Le MondeLiberation, AFP, France 2, France 3 … The complaints filed have been blocked since May 2019, both with the prosecutor and the IGPN. I’m talking about wounded journalists, exploded kneecaps of perfectly unjustified police custody. The journalist of France 3 Tanguy Karmarec filmed this Tuesday with his phone at the end of the demonstration, he had his press card in hand but he was arrested and has only just been released from custody. Between the handsome gentlemen who write beautiful texts which supposedly do not affect us and the reality on the ground, there is an ocean, the whole problem is there.

Yes, but on the other side a policewoman was severely beaten in 2018 in Champigny-sur-Marne, she described during the trial of her attackers the devastating impact of the viral video of her attack. So the problem exists.

Yes of course the problem exists. We don’t deny it at all. But for one or two officials who meet him, while there are arrests made by officials every day, we will prevent journalists from working and doing their job of testifying, on the grounds that there is a person. who was beaten up and filmed.  Information which is of a nature to provoke hatred or of a nature to lead to attacks is already in the law. We can sue in the name of incitement to hatred, there is already a criminal arsenal.

However, we have seen what happened with Samuel Paty, and there is an awareness of a form of insufficiency of the current devices against hate online. This text also aims to prevent tragedies.

Journalists are harassed on social networks and threatened with death on a very regular basis. We know this problem, but the provisions of the law absolutely do not address it. Of course, we know that the vast majority of police officers work very well, with difficult schedules and conditions. But that is not why we must continue to ensure total impunity to all the police officers who discredit the entire body. If all the ministers fall into the hands of the guys who are overbidding, I don’t know where we’re going! And then we were never consulted on this. We see the police unions but we do not see the unions of others. If force must remain with the law, which everyone absolutely approves, force must not remain with the police, without real control. The only control is media control, the General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN) is not independent, everyone knows that. It is thanks to videos that we saw that the truth affirmed by the police in the field and recorded in the minutes was false. For example, Cédric Chouviat never rebelled. And Geneviève Legay was indeed pushed by the police, contrary to what has been said. There are still 29 people with dislikes in France. In no country have we seen that. And no action is taken to advance the investigations. I am on the executive committee of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and journalists from other countries tell us “what’s going on? “. And the UN said the same thing on November 12, questioning the French government in an extremely harsh manner.

Are you going to call for a protest again?

The next gathering is Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on the forecourt of the Trocadéro in Paris with the filmmakers and screenwriters who are for other reasons in the same boat.

* The protection of journalists ‘sources of information is guaranteed in Europe by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and in France by a law of 2010 , which provides that “the secrecy of journalists’ sources is protected in the exercise of their mission of informing the public ”

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