GENEVA

The International Federation of Journalists declared Monday that it would bring France’s controversial “general security” bill before the next session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) if passed by French lawmakers.

In a video press conference, IFJ Secretary-General Anthony Bellanger decried “scandalous” police attacks on journalists in France.

Bellanger was answering questions about the challenges facing journalists worldwide at a press conference hosted by members of the Association of Journalists Covering the UN in Geneva (ACANU).

“If that law that is not changed […] and is brought before the National Assembly in February. I will alert the next session of Human Rights Council,” said Bellanger, responding to a question by Anadolu Agency.

To discuss the bill being debated in France and the use of violence by police against journalists, Bellanger said he had met French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin two weeks earlier in his office.

“We have many, many concerns about the situation in France […] It’s not because it’s in France, but it’s because it’s attacks on all journalists,” said the IFJ official.

Introduced by ruling party La Republique En Marche (LREM) — President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist liberal political party — in early November, the bill stipulates one-year imprisonment and a fine of €45,000 ($53,700) for offenders.

The adoption of the legislation in the lower chamber has resulted in nationwide protests with thousands objecting, saying that it would protect police at the people’s expense.

Frustration with police conduct in France was catalyzed in recent weeks by the brutal beating of music producer Michel Zecler, a 41-year-old Black man accosted by three officers on Nov. 21 at a Paris studio.

Interior security cameras captured footage of the 15-minute attack, with its subsequent posting days later on social media causing uproar. The officers were immediately suspended.

Human rights experts reporting to the UN stepped in on Dec. 3 and said France’s recent controversial security bill would be incompatible with international human rights law and needed sweeping revisions.

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