Amnesty International France has condemned the “arbitrary” arrests of dozens of people during a protest against a controversial security bill that would place restrictions on filming French police.

The French branch of the group said on Feb. 8 that out of 142 people who were arrested in Paris on December 12, including 124 who were held in custody, “nearly 80 percent” were eventually not prosecuted.

The rights watchdog said it had “legitimate concerns over the possibility that there were arbitrary arrests and other violations of human rights.”

The report’s author, Anne-Sophie Simpere, described the arrests as unjustified, saying no “notable violence” was observed during the December 12 protest.


“Nothing seems to justify what happened in terms of arrests or charges,” Ms. Simpere told AFP.

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of France to condemn the draft law, which they believe is designed to cover up police brutality, since November 2020.

AIF has joined an umbrella group opposed to the bill, which criminalizes the publication of images of on-duty police officers with an “obvious intention to harm.”

The legislation, which the French President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party has said would rewrite, will be voted on in the Senate in March.

“Detaining people who are peacefully protesting against a law which would further trample over their rights is a move straight out of the ‘human rights violators’ playbook. These dangerous practices pose a grave threat to the rights of people in France,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s Europe Researcher.

Amnesty also referred to “detentions based on vague laws,” notably one against “taking part in a group with the aim of planning violence,” cited in 25 of the cases examined by the group.

“It’s a catch-all offense,” Ms. Simpere said, adding, “You punish an act before it is committed.”

The report denounced the ambiguity in the laws, saying they can “unduly infringe on human rights.” (