French police face accusations of a "scandalous" use of excessive force after they fired tear gas to disperse a camp pitched by homeless migrants in Paris.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin acknowledged that images showing the clearance last night were "shocking" and asked the city's police chief to submit a report.

The government is already facing criticism over a new security law that opponents say will erode the accountability of the police.

Officers used tear gas to dismantle the Paris camp, which was set up to protest against earlier forced evacuations of hundreds of migrants from other camps.

Volunteers had helped set up about 500 blue tents at Place de la République (Republic Square) that were quickly filled by migrants, the majority from Afghanistan.

Police arrived shortly afterwards to remove the tents, sometimes with people still inside, in the face of protests from migrants and jeers from activists.

"They are too violent," said Shahbuddin, a 34-year-old Afghan, crying after being evicted. "We just want a roof."

Police later used tear gas and rough tactics, with videos posted on social media showing one officer tripping a man as he ran, and another officer slamming into a man who tried to intervene.

The controversy comes a week after migrants were evacuated from makeshift shelters in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis, including some who were provided with alternative shelter.

"The state has made a lamentable show," Ian Brossat, a Paris deputy mayor in charge of housing, said.

CFDT trade union chief Laurent Berger told France 2 TV that the actions of the police were "scandalous and astounding".

"People occupy a square peacefully with tents, simply because they have a housing problem, they are not harming anyone. And there is this intervention which is totally disproportionate," he said.

Mr Darmanin said he had asked for a report from Paris police chief Didier Lallement and would take decisions based on its findings.

"Some images of the dispersal of the illegal migrant camp on Republic Square are shocking," he wrote on Twitter.

Public figure tells Macron: 'We didn't vote for this'

Paris is a key stop-off point on the European migrant route with thousands passing through, often heading to England.

Encampments repeatedly sprout up around the city only to be torn down by the police.

The latest camp removal came as the government is pushing through a security law that would restrict the publication of photos or videos of police officers' faces.

The lower house of parliament gave initial approval to the legislation today.

The National Assembly, controlled by supporters of President Emmanuel Macron, passed the bill with 388 in favour, 104 against and 66 abstentions.

It must go to the Senate - the upper house - in January, and Prime Minister Jean Castex has also pledged to seek the approval of the Constitutional Court.

Media unions say the bill could give police a green light to prevent journalists from doing their work and potentially documenting abuses.

President Macron swept to power in 2017 as a centrist who rallied support from across the political spectrum.

But critics and even some supporters accuse him of tilting to the right as he seeks re-election in 2022.

A group of public figures who voted for him in 2017 wrote an open letter this week calling for the legislation to be withdrawn.

The law would "reduce the freedoms of information, opinion, belief, education, association, demonstration and protest," said the signatories, who included filmmaker Costa-Gavras and ex-footballer Lilian Thuram.

"Mr President, we did not vote for this."