Why it is our turn to warn that democracy dies in darkness


Draft legislation which includes handing increased powers to police and expanding the remit of surveillance operations is now being debated in the French parliament following its first passage through the lower house on Friday. One of the articles of the “Global security” bill will severely restrict the taking and dissemination of images of on-duty police officers. Mediapart staff joined journalists’ unions and rights groups on Saturday in a demonstration in Paris against the bill. Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel argues here that what is at stake in the proposed legislation is of exceptional gravity. If it is adopted, he writes, “the lights of democratic vigilance over actions of the state will be extinguished”.

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“Democracy dies in darkness”: it was in February 2017, following the inauguration of Donald Trump as US president, that The Washington Post, celebrated for its investigative journalism, which remains best-known for its revelations of the Watergate scandal, decided to place the phrase on the masthead of both its online and print editions. It was in response to the alternative ‘truths’ promoted by the new occupant of the White House who, during his mandate, would never cease to attack the freedom of the press, its duty to reveal and its right to criticise.