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Now EU warns France over press freedom chaos

International Desk || shiningbd

Published: 19:04, 23 November 2020  
Now EU warns France over press freedom chaos

Photo: Collected

The European Commission on Monday responded to a question about France's draft security law by warning that news media must be able to "work freely".

French journalists and press freedom advocates have protested against the planned law, which would limit the right to film or photograph on-duty police officers.

It will also make it harder to hold police accountable for abuses such as excessive use of force - a growing public concern. The offense would carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a 45,000-euro ($53,000) fine.

EU spokesman Christian Wigand said "The commission does not comment on draft laws, but it goes without saying that in a period of crisis it is more important than ever that journalists must be able to do their jobs freely and in complete safety."

"As is always the case, the Commission reserves the right to examine the final legislation in order to verify that it conforms to EU law," he added.

Last Tuesday, two journalists were detained in a protest that led to clashes with police as lawmakers in the National Assembly began debating the bill, which is backed by President Emmanuel Macron's party and its parliamentary allies.

The bill passed its first reading on Friday and there will be a second reading on Tuesday. It then goes to the Senate for further debate before it can become law.

An amendment drafted by the government and approved on Friday modified the article in question, 24, to add the phrase "without prejudice to the right to inform".