SPAIN: The review of the 2015 Law on Citizens’ Safety should result in better protecting human rights

Letter published by the Council of Europe on 11/02/2022

In a letter published today, the Commissioner for Human Rights calls on the Parliament of Spain to ensure that the review of the 2015 Law on Citizens’ Safety is used as an opportunity to bring it fully in line with European and international human rights standards, in particular as concerns the provisions impinging on the rights to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly, the right to seek asylum and the prohibition of refoulement.

The Commissioner emphasises that the current reform should address the concerns she expressed about this Law in November 2018, notably about the wide margin of discretion that the wording of the Law gives to law enforcement in interpreting it, allowing for its potential disproportionate and arbitrary application. She notes that the implementation of the Law has continued to lead to the imposition of sanctions on unclear grounds.

The Commissioner further underscores the difficulty of appealing administrative sanctions imposed on the grounds of the Law and the need to strengthen the overall accountability framework for law enforcement officials.

Lastly, she recommends that the authorities provide law enforcement officials with clear and mandatory guidance on how to act in compliance with human rights standards when intercepting migrants at the borders of Ceuta and Melilla.