In a move described by opponents as violating civil liberties, France’s president Emmanuel Macron has given security forces greater enforcement powers at demonstrations, AFP has reported Thursday April 11th.
Macron has signed into law a new bill, which was approved by legislators in February, which aims to crack down on the rising violence that has marred the "yellow vest" protest movement, which has rocked France since its eruption in November last year.
Interior minister Christophe Castaner on Thursday April 11th hailed the law as a "text which protects the French in the face of insecurity and violence."
"It's a text that protects our institutions and our liberties," he wrote on Twitter.
But France's Constitutional Council, its highest constitutional authority, refused this month to give its go ahead to one of the most contentious parts of the legislation, which would have given the authorities the power to ban from demonstrations any individual "posing a particularly serious threat to public order."
That was accompanied by a file of people named by the police, which critics strongly denounced as violating citizens' freedom of assembly, as protected in the constitution.
But the council did approve two other key parts of the legislation, including giving the authorities the power to search bags and cars in and around demonstrations at the demand of a prosecutor.
It also approved making it a criminal offence to conceal the face at a demonstration, punishable by a year in prison and 15,000 euros ($17,000) in fines.
The yellow vest protests across France against social inequality have proved the biggest challenge to Macron since he came to power in May 2017.