Spain’s Gagging Law Takes Effect

Spain remains outside the framework of criminal law of the member countries of the European Union. As of Wednesday July 1st the Ley Mordaza or Gagging Law came into full effect. On the 26th of March the majority PP voted in the various changes to the penal code and set off alarm bells with organisations such as Human Rights Watch. The law comes in various layers and basically restricts the freedom of people to communicate their dissent to others. The Spanish Public Safety Act is one of these and represents a direct threat to the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in Spain. Basically, the government has granted itself broad discretion to restrict and punish dissent.

Please take a moment to consider a) democracy and b) dictatorship

We would normally consider peaceful protest a vital part of the functioning of a democracy and certainly criticism of the ruling administration, essential. Not in Spain though. The new laws have also been very specifically drafted to target internet blogging and social media activities.

Please take a moment to consider the plight of Chinese bloggers.

Police now have powers to stop, search, frisk and fine people right there in the street for the as yet undefined crime of ‘peaceful dissent’ for which they have little recourse to appeal and must pay for the service.

Please take a moment to consider the comic series Judge Dredd.

Spain has already seen five convictions by the European Court of Human Rights since the 2004 European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and has been denounced by Amnesty International. Most worryingly for journalists is the law that prevents the dissemination of images of police officers. It is illegal to photograph the police but then, how do you know who the police are and who aren’t? This particular law was called for after a group of hooded police agent provocateurs were accidentally beaten up by their own buddies.

In fact, things are so bad I can’t even write this blo…aaaaagghhh!!!

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