• Spain's news in English

Spain angers activists with new security law

AFP · 14 Dec 2014, 17:09

Published: 14 Dec 2014 17:09 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The lower house of parliament approved the law -- dubbed the "Ley Mordaza" or "Gag Law" by its critics -- on Thursday with the votes of the ruling conservative Popular Party which has a majority in the assembly. All opposition parties voted against the bill.

The bill, which was first introduced in 2013, now goes to the senate, Spain's upper house of parliament, at the beginning of next year for final approval.

Under the new legislation organisers of unpermitted demonstrations near buildings that provide basic services can be slapped with fines of up to €600,000 ($745,000) while those who disobey police or prevent authorities from carrying out evictions can be fined up to €30,000.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz argues the new legislation serves to "better guarantee public security in a way that has more legal certainty" and will better protect rights and freedoms.

Passage of the bill, which updates a 1992 law, comes as Spain has seen a rise in protests since the collapse of a property bubble in 2008 sent the economy into a double-dip recession that threw millions of people out of work.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party government has issued a series of austerity measures which have been targeted by demonstrations, including tax hikes and deep cuts to public spending in education and healthcare, since taking power in 2008.

While the vast majority of protests have been peaceful, some -- such as an attempt by demonstrators to encircle parliament in September 2012 -- have ended up in clashes with police.

The rise in protests led Madrid's Popular Party mayor Ana Botella to request that demonstrations be restricted in the city centre.

Opposition parties and rights groups argue the new law is an attempt by the government to curb protests over its handling of Spain's economic crisis.

"The law essentially aims to discourage people from exercising their fundamental rights," Joaquim Bosch, the spokesman for Judges for Democracy, an association of judges and magistrates, told AFP.

"What the government wants are parallel regulations to sanction protests"

An amendment recently introduced to the bill would make it legal for Spanish police to immediately deport migrants caught illegally entering north African territories of Melilla and Ceuta, a main gateway into Europe for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

Rights groups accuse Spanish police of routinely expelling back to Morocco immigrants who have entered the two territories illegally.

These expulsions are prohibited by 11 Spanish, European and international legal norms because they deny migrants their right to seek asylum, according to rights group Amnesty International.

"It is not a humanitarian question, or a sentimental issue, it is a question of human rights," said the head of the Amnesty's Spanish branch, Esteban Beltran.

United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said in October that it was "concerned" by the move to make on-the-spot expulsions legal at the same time that it urged Spanish authorities "not to use violence at the borders" after an NGO released a video of police hitting migrants who had scaled a border fence in Melilla.

"There is a lot of hypocrisy, from offices in the north of Europe who are not facing this problem, from the centre of Europe and other places that give lessons on humanitarianism," Fernandez Diaz said Thursday during a television interview.

"I would say 'give me your address' and we will send these people with the commitment that they will support them and give them a job," he added.

Amnesty International also criticised a measure in the new law which allows for fines of up to €30,000 for those who use images of police without authorisation. It says this could deter activists and journalists from relaying images of alleged police brutality.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Southern Spain will become a desert with global warming
Photo: Steven Stralton / Flickr

Southern Spain will become a desert if global warning continues, scientists have warned.

Eight Spanish films to truely terrify you this Halloween
Photo: Corie Howell / Flickr Creative Commons.

Looking for something to give you goosebumps this Halloween? The Local looks at eight Spanish films that are sure to have you cowering beneath the covers.

Spain's Socialists refuse to go easy on Rajoy once in power
Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists may have reluctantly decided to let Mariano Rajoy govern again but they will not go easy on the acting conservative premier once he re-takes power, they warned on Thursday.

Spain's Podemos sees golden opportunity in Socialist woes
Pablo Iglesias is ready to step up in opposition. Photo: AFP

As Spain's conservatives prepare to re-take power after 10 months of political limbo, anti-austerity party Podemos has set its sights on replacing the divided Socialists as the main opposition force.

Wildlife ranger accused over decapitated bison in Valencia
The headless corpse of Sauro was found last month. Photo: Carlos Alamo / Reserva de Valdeserrillas

The case of the beheaded bison at a wildlife reserve in Valencia just got a whole lot weirder.

Spain jobless drops below 20% for first time in six years
The unemployed queuing up outside a Madrid job centre. Photo: AFP

Spain's unemployment fell below 20 percent for the first time in six years, official figures showed on Thursday.

'Saints not ghouls' insists Spanish church for Halloween
Suggested outfits from the Bishopric of Cadiz and Ceuta. Photo: Shower of Roses

Spanish bishops are urging good Christian children to forgo zombie, ghost and devil outfits and instead dress up as "saints, virgins and apostles".

Tough road ahead, Spain PM warns before return to power
Rajoy will try and form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned on Wednesday of a tough road ahead as he prepares to take power again at the head of a minority government with little support.

Russia withdraws request to refuel warships in Ceuta
The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was due to dock in Ceuta

Russia has withdrawn a request for its aircraft carrier group to be refuelled at the Spanish port of Ceuta, authorities confirmed.

Bulls replace guard dogs at scrap yard in Valencia
Two bulls will be patrolling the scrap yard in eastern Spain. Archive photo: AFP

Guard dogs were not proving enough of a deterrent to thieves at a car breakers yard in eastern Spain so the owner has brought in a pair of fighting bulls.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available