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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Rights groups denounce 'arbitrary arrests' at Paris demo

Date of publication: 14 December, 2020

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Several rights groups and journalists' unions on Sunday denounced what they said were "arbitrary arrests" by Paris police at the latest protest against a controversial security bill a day earlier.

Several rights groups and journalists' unions on Sunday denounced what they said were "arbitrary arrests" by Paris police at the latest protest against a controversial security bill a day earlier.

Officers arrested 150 people at the march and rally, the third protest over consecutive weekends, the last two of which were marred by violence.

A statement by several rights groups and the SNJ journalists union condemned "mass arrests, unjustified charges breaking up the procession" and the detention of people beyond the legal limit "for no legitimate reason".

Prosecutors say 124 people were held in custody, including two journalists. One of whom was eventually released without charge, said Emmanuel Vire of the SNJ union.

The other, a reporter with QG media, is suspected of "assembly with a view to committing violence" refusing to heed an order to disperse and concealing his face, said QG media's founder, Aude Lancelin. He was simply wearing a protective mask, said Lancelin.

Far-left, France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party deputy Eric Coquerel also criticised the arrests on Twitter as "completely authoritarian", adding that he had exercised his "parliamentary visiting rights in the police stations".

The prosecutors office said Sunday evening that 30 people were still being held - but that 19 minors detained during the demonstrations had been released without charge, five of them receiving police warnings.

There were protests across France on Saturday against the security bill, which has been adopted by the lower house of parliament. Critics say it will make it harder for journalists and citizens to document cases of police brutality.

Organisers say 10,000 people turned out on Saturday for the Paris protest, though police put the number at half that.

Although there were no major flare-ups at the Paris demonstration, Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin said "several hundred thugs had come to commit violence".

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