The Senate of France (the Upper House of Parliament) on Tuesday in the second, final reading adopted a bill to counter aggressive protesters in France, which since its appearance has undergone hundreds of amendments. The voting was broadcast on the official website of the chamber.
On February 5, the draft law was adopted in the first reading by the national Assembly (the Lower House of Parliament) of France. 343 (from 348) senators took part in the voting on 12 March, 210 senators spoke in support of the bill, vs — 115, 18 abstained.
The article that gave prefects (senior officials, including heads of regions and departments) the power to prohibit participation in demonstrations under the threat of imprisonment for up to six months, as well as to impose fines on individual citizens who represent “a particularly serious threat to public order”, was the most controversial. So far, such decisions were only in the jurisdiction of the court.
Among other innovations provided for punishment for those who appear at the protest with a mask or scarf face: a fine of up to € 15 thousand and a possible prison term. The bill also specifies the rules of searches in the areas of demonstrations for the presence of things that can be used as weapons (screwdrivers, hammers, balls for pétanque, etc.).
However, as the French media emphasize, the law will be considered in the constitutional Council before its publication. As explained by the Minister of internal Affairs of France Christophe Castaner, who spoke in the Senate, it will “remove all suspicions, all doubts”.
“The text [of the law] does not mean the beginning of tyranny”, he was quoted by the radio station France Info. As the Minister added, “justice remains the ultimate guarantor of freedom”.