SPAIN: Parties and civil society debate in Congress on the reforms needed to end the Gag Rule

(Translated from Spanish from No somos delito) Next Thursday, July 5, from 4:45pm onwards, a Parliamentary Conference will be held in the Congress of Deputies to debate the reforms of the Citizen Security Law, better known as the Gag Rule. In this event organized by social groups, to which all the parliamentary groups have been invited, a series of proposals for change to the reforms proposed in Congress will be presented.

These proposals have been agreed by numerous organizations and groups throughout the country, which have worked in coordination with the No Somos Delito to an analysis of the 10 key points that a law should contain to guarantee the protection of fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, assembly, the right to privacy and the right to asylum. As No Somos Delito states: “we consider it necessary for the reform of this law to contemplate the elimination of the presumption of truthfulness on the part of the State Security Forces and Bodies, the drafting of an unambiguously transparent text that complies with the principles of non-discrimination and equality or the abolition of hot returns, points that are basic in any democratic State governed by the rule of law”.

With regard to the reform proposals put forward by the PSOE and PNV political parties, the lawyers from the No Somos Delito group responsible for studying these proposals believes that “despite some improvement on the current Gag Rule, both proposals are far from being a law that guarantees fundamental rights and public freedoms”.

The decalogue of minimums brought to Congress by social movements and organisations has the support of more than 200 groups and around 1000 people from all over the country. This text will be discussed during the Day with representatives of the following parliamentary groups: Enric Bataller i Ruiz, spokesman of the Justice Commission of the Congress of Compromises; David Serrada Pariente, spokesman of the Interior Commission of the Congress of the Socialist Group; Miguel Ángel Gutierrez Vivas, spokesman of the Interior Commission of the Congress of Citizens; Jose David Carracedo Verde, deputy attached to the Commission for Democratic Quality, against corruption and institutional and legal reforms of the United We Can – In Comú Podem – In Marea; and Carolina Telechea i Lozano, spokeswoman of the Justice Commission and member of the Interior Commission of the Congress of Esquerra Republicana.

A day with a double objective

The two objectives of the Day are, on the one hand, to denounce and contextualize the current situation of violation of rights in the State, and on the other hand, to contribute to the fact that the repeal/reform of the current Law of Citizen Security, better known as the Gag Law, will lead to a text with legal guarantees that protects fundamental rights, as announced by the social organizations in charge of the event. To this end, it is planned to hold a day divided into three interconnected blocks. […]

Three years of application of the Gag Law

The 1st of July was the third anniversary of the entry into force of the Gag Law (Ley Orgánica de Protección de la Seguridad Ciudadana). Since the first draft of this law was announced, collectives, organizations and civil society have denounced its approval as a step backwards in democratic rights and guarantees. The latest data extracted from the report of the Ministry of the Interior indicate that the first reason for sanctioning citizen safety is the fines for “disrespect and consideration of authority”. In these three years, more than 40,000 sanctions have been imposed for this reason, based on the application of article 37.4 of the LOSC. One of the articles most criticised for being “too broad and indeterminate”. In the words of the No somos delito Platform: “this is one of the many articles of this law that does not clearly specify what the concrete reasons for the sanction may be, leaving the citizenry in a situation of insecurity before the power of the police, who are the ones who have the power to interpret which facts are punishable or not within the free exercise of fundamental rights such as freedom of expression or assembly”.

Among the latest facts gathered by the social organizations, we find cases of fines of 1200 euros for attending the pot race held on the night of March 8, 2018 at the Puerta del Sol on the occasion of the feminist strike; in this case the police fined one of the participants arguing that the concentration in which she participated was not reported. However, “the Law of Citizen Security does not contemplate any infraction for attending a concentration not reported, but for calling it, so this person was sanctioned for not attending an illegitimate order based on art. 36.6 of disobedience to agents of the authority,” denounce the lawyers of the Platform No somos delito. There are other cases such as the photojournalist who was fined €602 on the basis of article 36.23, which refers to the unauthorized use of FCSE images, for uploading to his twitter account the images of a police arrest that took place while covering a protest mobilization on March 3, 2016, “a clear example of a violation of the fundamental right of freedom of information,” denounce the lawyers.

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Featured image via No somos delito