Amnesty International in France has questioned the "credibility" of a court case against a French journalist accused by the state of "rebellion" and "contempt."

On June 11 2019, Taha Bouhafs, a journalist working for an online media outlet, was arrested while filming a demonstration by undocumented workers in Paris.

The court case against Bouhafs has grabbed national headlines given the journalist's high-profile in the country and what some see as a test case against government critics.

Taha was able to film the moment of his arrest by an undercover officer, and in a video that was played in court, a heated conversation between the two followed.

"Do you take yourself for a cowboy?!...Do you think you are above the law ?!" Bouhafs can be heard saying in the video.

When Bouhafs warned the police officer that he was there to do his job, filming a picket line and not a police officer, which the French government recently attempted to criminalise but backed down after an uproar, the undercover officers did not back down.

"He refused to identify himself; he had no registration number. This is not the behaviour of a police officer," said the journalist during court proceedings. At the time, Bouhafs was injured by the police officer who attempted to manhandle the journalist.

The police officer's defence was that given his young age, at no time "did I think that Taha Bouhafs was a journalist."

"These prosecutions, whose credibility is strongly questioned thanks to the videos that were produced at the time of Mr Bouhafs' arrest, are emblematic of the context of obstacles to the work of journalists and, more generally, to the freedom to inform," said Amnesty International ahead of the court case.

A proposed law that threatens to make the dissemination of videos of the police a new offence, Amnesty International France warned, would infringe on "fundamental freedoms."

One journalist called the police officer's account of the events "mind-blowing and so contemptuous."

Another activist argued that "it's essential to fight against police violence", adding that the right to inform the public should not be criminalised.

Bouhafs' case, which will see a final verdict in May of this year, comes amidst growing scrutiny in the country over police actions towards ethnic minority communities.

In a recent revelation, three police officers attempted to frame an innocent person over injuries sustained by one of them in a separate initiation ceremony gone wrong.

French police have been accused of ensuring that violence against migrants has become a new observable norm throughout the country.

A report by Human Rights last year accused the French police of systemic discrimination towards ethnic minorities.

"French police use broad powers to stop and search Black and Arab youth even when there is no sign or evidence of wrongdoing," the report said.

More recently, this year, six non-governmental organisations, in an unprecedented action, warned the French state of "systematic discrimination."

The collective statement went on to say that "ethnic profiling is a longstanding, pervasive, widespread, and well-documented problem in France" and that taken together, there is a "pattern of discrimination that cannot be dismissed as isolated."

In a warning that could see the French government taken to court, the organisations urged the government to take deep and painful structural reforms to rebuild confidence in the country's police.

Source: TRT World