Protests have taken place across Spain after the parliament approved a new security law, which opponents have condemned as an attempt to restrict freedom of speech and expression.
Under the legislation, protesters could face fines of up to 600,000 euros for participating in demonstrations outside public buildings if they are considered a breach of the peace. A number of what the law considers as minor offences are also punishable by fines, such as insulting police officers (up to €600) and burning national flags (up to €30,000).
The law has sparked protests in cities across Spain. Opponents describe the legislation as a ‘gagging law’, illustrated by the fact that many protesters taped over their mouths before taking to the streets. Police were sent in to control the protests, which ended peacefully.
The Spanish government has also faced criticism from Human Rights campaign groups and the Opposition in the Spanish parliament for proposing the law, which they portray as the government’s attempt to stem the flow of criticism over its role in the current economic crisis in the country.
The legislation is in draft form and will now be passed to the Spanish senate for approval. If it is approved by a majority in the senate it will then be enacted, which is likely to cause more protest.