Thousands of Spaniards fined for 'disrespecting' police
Emma Anderson · 4 Mar 2016, 13:56
Published: 04 Mar 2016 13:00 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Mar 2016 13:56 GMT+01:00
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Data from the Spanish Interior Ministry obtained through a petition by El Diario shows that police fined 6,217 people as of this January for showing "lack of respect to security forces" since the law went into effect last year.
Such infractions brought in more than €900,000 ($987,000) in fines, according to the report.
A spokeswoman from the Interior Ministry confirmed to The Local that the numbers in the report were correct, and the fines occurred between April 2015 and January 2016.
Spain's public security law has been dubbed the "gag law" by its numerous critics who say it places strict limits on freedom of speech and harkens back to time of dictator Francisco Franco.
International rights organizations including Amnesty International and the International Press Institute have harshly condemned the law for its "dangerous" restrictions, which include fines of up to €600,000 for unauthorized protests, sanctions against social media activism and bans on taking pictures of police.
A total of more than 40,000 sanctions were issued as of January, according to El Diario, most of which were for consuming or possessing drugs in public places, at 18,006.
The data obtained by the newspaper does not include arrests made by the independent police forces in the autonomous regions of Catalonia or the Basque Country.
Not showing respect to an officer was the second most common offence, followed by disobedience or resistance to authority at 3,699 sanctions.
The fines so far for not respecting an officer averaged €145, according to El Diario, with a minimum of €100.
The gag law has been used to fine a woman €800 for posting a picture on Facebook of an illegally-parked police car, though the sanction was later dropped.
A protester was also fined €5,000 under the law for "posing a danger to public safety" after he chained himself to a road sign at a bull-lancing event.