Dozens more protests take place across France against new security law

Demonstration in Paris against the "global security" law, 5 December, 2020.
Demonstration in Paris against the "global security" law, 5 December, 2020. © Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Trade unions rallying against precariousness and unemployment across France have been joined by thousands protesting police violence and a new security law, despite the government already backing down over the main article of the bill that would limit the right to publish images of police on the job. 


Every year, the French CGT union organises rallies on the first Saturday of December in solidarity with workers in precarious situations. 

This year, it has been joined by the #StopLoiSécuritéGlobale group on their "freedom and justice marches" against the government's controversial security legislation that critics denounce as authoritarian, saying it threatens social freedoms and freedom of the press. 

These calls were made despite the National Assembly's announcement this week that Article 24 of the bill, which would have banned the publishing of images, "with intent to harm", of police in action, would be rewritten.

Critics say the law "undermines press freedom, freedom of speech and freedom to demonstrate". Protesters are also demanding provisions for "mass surveillance tools" such as drones and cameras be scrapped.  

Last Saturday's marches, held soon after the release of video images of police brutally beating Michel Zecler, a black music producer, saw at least 133,000 people come out across the country, according to interior ministry, with organisers putting the figure at 500,000.

'Police brutality' a political project 

In a move to win over young people, who made up a large part of demonstrators last weekend, President Emmanuel Macron gave an interview to the online news platform Brut.

"I can't let it be said that freedoms are being curtailed in France," said the president, adding: "It's a big lie. We are not Hungary or Turkey. "

Macron denounced violence perpetrated both by and against police officers, particularly during last Saturday's demonstrations. 

"I have no problem repeating the term 'police brutality'. But I want to break it down, because it has become a slogan for people who have a political project, including the far-left," Macron said.

Some French cities are bracing for more scenes of unrest on Saturday. In Bordeaux and Montpellier, the prefects have banned any marches in the city centres. In Lyon, demonstrations are only authorised on the left bank of the Rhône river.

French unions also want the protests to highlight the difficulties of workers during the health crisis.

"Given the Covid-19 crisis, and also the continuing mindset of profit at all costs, redundancy plans are multiplying in big companies", said the CGT, FTUU and Solidaires unions, backed by the youth organisations FIDL, UNL, MNL, Unef. 

They demand in particular the suspension of reforms of unemployment insurance and more aid for all precarious workers.

(with wires)

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