'In a desperate attempt to push back against the “yellow vest” demonstrations in France, President Emmanuel Macron and his party are restricting the right to protest.
The “Anti-Troublemakers” Bill
A majority in the French National Assembly approved the Loi anti-casseurs (Anti-Troublemakers Bill) on January 31. However, it wasn’t Macron’s own “La République En Marche” (“The Republic on the Move”) party that came up with the new rules on protests, but rather, the Republican right (the centrist party of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy), which has taken the side of the police in the violent protests in Paris and other major French cities. The French Senate—a body in which Republicans are still the most numerous—had suggested a bill in early January that already contained the most controversial aspect of the current law: it hands protest bans to administrative powers.
The decision will be purely in the hands of the unelected prefects put in power by the government.
This does not mean that the prefects, who represent the central government on the local level (France is a highly centralized country), will be able to ban the organization of a protest outright; they can, however, bar certain individuals from participating. Individuals identified in a specific police file will be unable to attend protests (for as long as a month), even if they have no previous convictions. The decision will be purely in the hands of the unelected prefects put in power by the government. There is uncertainty for now as to whether such a decision could even be appealed in court.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner took the floor in parliament with a very Orwellian speech: “There is no reason to draw caricatures [about this bill], because in no circumstance does this law do anything but protect the right to protest.” There you have it: Banning the right to protest safeguards the right to protest. And war is peace.
The Anti-Troublemakers Bill also bans protesters from wearing a helmet, mask, or a scarf in an attempt to stop violent protesters from getting away without consequences. Anyone caught masked can be subject to a fine of €15,000 ($17,100).'
Read more: Fearing Yellow Vests, Macron Attacks French Civil Liberties
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