POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - JUSTICE

covid-19

Justice minister wants changes to penal code following protests



Justice minister Sam Tanson suggested changes to the penal code to adapt to the increasingly problematic protests.  Romain Gamba / Maison Moderne

Justice minister Sam Tanson suggested changes to the penal code to adapt to the increasingly problematic protests.  Romain Gamba / Maison Moderne

After demonstrations against covid restrictions and vaccines took over Luxembourg city during the past few weekends, justice minister Sam Tanson (déi Gréng) has proposed a series of changes to the penal code.

Spitting on police agents should become punishable, says Tanson. While the act of disrespect in itself would justify this, in the context of a pandemic, it takes on an additional meaning. After several such incidents were recorded, the minister suggested on 19 January there should be consequences for this action.

The punishment for rebellion against police agents should also be bumped up to three years of prison, which would allow for “different means in the legal pursuit afterwards,” Tanson said, speaking to RTL. Since the beginning of December, a number of demonstrations against covid restrictions have taken place, and though some were legal and announced to the police, some fringe groups caused damage to property and crashed the Christmas market. Police officers also seized explosives and weapons on some occasions.

Lastly, Tanson suggested allowing police investigations under pseudonyms. As the protests are organised on Facebook groups or Telegram group chats among others, investigators should be allowed to create fictitious identities to protect themselves during their research. Recently it was revealed that death threats were made against journalists in a Telegram group.

Additionally, some groups would plan to do undeclared protests or “walks” in smaller groups to overwhelm police forces.

Tanson, however, did not speak of reviewing the right to protest, saying that it remains a fundamental right.