The amendment was adopted shortly after the National Assembly approved a three-month extension to the state of emergency that President François Hollande declared the day after the 13 November attacks in Paris.
“Even if they were never applied, these provisions posed a threat to freedom of information in France and we welcome the government’s decision to eliminate them for good,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
As well as imposing controls on the media, the law allowed the police to search the offices of journalists, judges and elected officials without having to request permission from a court. This provision has also been eliminated.
A group of around 20 parliamentarians led by National Assembly vice-president Sandrine Mazetier (a member of the Socialist Party), tried to block the amendment, but their proposal was rejected. The grounds they gave for opposing the change were “the shortcomings observed in media coverage” of January’s Paris attacks.
Article 11 of the 1955 law allowed the authorities to “take all measures to ensure control of the press and publications of all kinds, as well as radio broadcasts, cinema screenings and theatre performances.”
In a directive issued on 14 November, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve had told prefects that this provision and a provision increasing the role of military courts should be excluded from the state of emergency declared after the previous day’s attacks, of which the provisional toll is 129 dead and 350 wounded.
The extension to the current state of emergency will take effect on 26 November and will last until midnight on 25 February, according to the text adopted yesterday. Reporters Without Borders undertakes to monitor media freedom issues closely throughout the state of emergency.