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SPAIN: Gag Law under reform, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and rule of law at stake – Joint letter

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In Spain, social movements play a crucial role for democracy and rule of law: they mobilise citizens for environmental and social justice, and for the protection of sexual and reproductive rights. They stand against far-right groups and anti-rights narrative that have become more visible. They have also contributed to mitigate the socio-economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since 2015, though, a very restrictive law on the Protection of Citizen Security (so-called “Gag Law”, or “Ley Mordaza”) has strained freedom of assembly and expression in Spain. Social movements and journalists covering police actions during public gatherings have been targeted. After many years of pressure by civil society and international organisations, finally, a process of reform of this law has been started by the Spanish government. This is a crucial opportunity to strengthen the rule of law and protect civic space in Spain. However, the reform to date does not provide safeguards to ensure the respect of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

That’s why we have alerted the European Commission that the reform to date does not provide safeguards to ensure the respect of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Today we sent a letter to Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, to support CSOs in Spain.