France's President Emmanuel Macron talks to journalists after a European Council meeting on Brexit at The Europa Building at The European Parliament in Brussels. Image Credit: AFP

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron has signed into law legislation giving security forces greater powers at demonstrations that opponents claim violates civil liberties, the official journal said Thursday.

The bill, which was approved by lawmakers in February, aims to crack down on violence that has marred the “yellow vest” protest movement, which has rocked France since erupting in November.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Thursday 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 in a move indicative of the political trouble caused for Macron by the “yellow vest” movement, France’s Constitutional Council, its highest constitutional authority, refused this month to give its green light to one of the most contentious parts of the legislation.

It would have given the authorities the power to ban from demonstrations any individual “posing a particularly serious threat to public order”.

That article was accompanied by a file of named of people wanted 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 (Dh62,441; $17,000) in fines.