French Government’s Authoritarian Measures to Limit People’s Freedom to Protest

French politicians have approved controversial measures that opponents say are an authoritarian effort designed to have a chilling effect on the yellow vest demonstrations as they enter their 12th week.

While the new law hasn’t cleared the final legislative hurdle, its main provisions have been adopted. One of the most controversial measures in the bill will make it so a person deemed to represent a “particularly serious” threat to public order will be prevented from taking part in protests. Their names will be added to special police files. Regional prefects, rather than judges, will have the powers to ban people from protesting. Additionally, wearing a mask could now result in a one-year prison sentence and a $17,000 fine.

The measures are an attempt by the government to crackdown on anti-government demonstrations that have overwhelming public support.

One politician opposed to the new law called it “pure madness” and said it was as if France was “back under the Vichy regime,” which was France’s Nazi-collaborationist regime.

The full law will be voted on in parliament next week.



Photo: “Les Gilets Jaunes” by Patrice CALATAYU is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0