The Spanish government has recently approved the Citizen Security Law, labelled as “Ley Mordaza” or “Gag Law” by opposition groups and the media. The Gag law criminalizes non-violent protests and activist movements and curbs the freedom of expression.
Under this law, you can get a fine from 600€ to 30.000€ for photographing or recording police, peaceful disobedience to authority, not formalizing a protest, impeding or stopping an eviction or meeting or gathering in front of the Congress. Assembling in public spaces or near a legislative building, wearing hoods, masks, helmets or anything that prevents authorities from identifying you or protesting the day before an election will also be considered serious offences.
This anti-protest law gives police immense power, legalizing black lists of activists, protesters and alternative media, allowing random identity checks based on ethnic profiles and external body searches at their discretion. It also legalizes the immediate repatriation of illegal immigrants on the borders of Spain with Morocco. With a 26% unemployment rate, the government hopes to quiet down the crowds, who can’t afford to pay the financial sanctions for protesting.
Tens of thousands of people have gathered to speak out against the most repressive anti-protest law in Europe in more than 30 cities. Some opponents have compared it to the laws under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in terms of civil and human rights. Many collectives will be affected when the law becomes effective, like Greenpeace, which engages in creative and peaceful protests to achieve their goals.
From my point of view, this law is undemocratic and clearly goes against the principle of freedom of speech. It has been harshly criticized by Amnesty International, which has started a petition against the law that has already obtained 60 000+ signatures. The government wants citizens to keep quiet, but people will always find a way to take action and speak out.