SAFETY LAW CONTROVERSY

Safety bill calls for 30,000 euro fines for “offenses against Spain”

Cabinet sends proposed citizens’ security law to Congress for debate

People convicted for “offenses against Spain” could be fined up to 30,000 euros under the terms of the proposed Citizens Safety Law, Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz said Friday.

The bill, which will be sent to Congress and is expected to become law at the beginning of next year, was approved by the Cabinet at its weekly meeting. The proposal has come under severe attack by the opposition and social organizations which claim that the conservative Popular Party (PP) government wants to make public protests a criminal offense.

“Offenses against Spain” include any public acts, such as shouting or carrying placards “that are harmful or abusive of Spain or any region” during a protest or demonstration, Fernández said.

Fines have also been fixed for picketers in a strike who prevent others from going to their jobs and people who prevent judicial officers from carrying out evictions.

Greenpeace announced in a statement that it will begin a public awareness campaign to ensure that Spaniards raise their voices against the bill. “With this legal reform, the government is breaking the rules of play in a democracy,” said Greenpeace España spokeswoman Sara del Río.

The minister acknowledged that the criticism to the proposed law prompted the government to drop the amounts of fines that were included in the previous draft bill. At first, the measure called for fines of up to 30,000 euros against those who take part in outside drinking parties that disturb the peace and 600,000 euros for those who organize demonstrations without a permit. Fines for those crimes have been dropped to 1,000 euros and 30,000 euros respectively.

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