Spain's Gag Law Comes Into Effect
Protesters marched in more than 30 cities across Spain last night decrying the introduction of a controversial new Spanish “gag law” that will limit the right to demonstrate.
The new legislation came into force today despite being denounced by international human rights’ groups, lawyers associations and journalists for suppressing freedom of speech.
Over the Spanish parliament building, where protesting will now be banned, Greenpeace demonstrators hung a gigantic banner proclaiming "Protesting is a Right"
The streets of Madrid and other cities were filled with thousands of people protesting against the new law which also includes fines of up to 30,000€ / £21,300 for public disorder offences which include neighbourhood demonstrations against evictions
The very broad law also allows for the expulsion of migrants caught illegally entering Spain's two North African enclaves.
In addition to monstrous fines for protesting outside government buildings, it also permits authorities to fine journalists and media organisations who share images of police.
For disrespecting a police officer, the fine will be 600€ (although it's unclear as to what scale they will determine what is disrespectful and to whom)
An amount of €600,000 could be fined for unauthorised protests near key infrastructure, including transportation hubs or nuclear power plants.
This law has been thrust through buy the current conservative party PP led by Mariano Rajoy following several years of mostly peaceful anti-austerity and anti corruption protests against his party .
Critics include a panel of five United Nation human rights experts, the Human Rights Watch advocacy group and the opposition socialist party PSOE who themselves have pledged that they will rescind the law if elected in the next elections.
"With the 'gag law' brought into force, the practice of journalism will be less free," said the Madrid Press Association in a statement.