‘Illegal’ Spanish protests to face huge €600,000 fines

‘Illegal’ Spanish protests to face huge €600,000 fines
Unauthorized demonstrations near the Spanish Parliament could see participants being fined 600,000 euro ($810,000) under a new Citizen Security bill being introduced by Spain’s ruling rightist Popular Party, local media reported.

Under the legislation, which will likely soon be approved in parliament, “social uproar” leading to harassment or insults of officials is to be made a criminal offense. Masked disorderly conduct could also incur charges. The legislation will likely be drafted by the Cabinet next Friday.

Unsanctioned protests outside political offices will be outlawed, alongside disorderly conduct by people hindering any means of identification, while people offering sexual services in the vicinity of children’s play areas will also be made illegal, according to Spanish newspaper 20minutos.es.

Other offenses deemed serious are to include publishing images or personal data of policemen, interrupting public events, possession of illegal drugs, vandalism of public property and drinking alcohol in the street.

The fines will vary between 1,000 euro and 30,000 euro ($1,350-$40,000) for more minor offenses. However, just insulting a policeman could see a citizen landed with a 30,000-euro fine.

“We’re not looking to punish [people] more, just to reduce the discretionary margin for illicit conduct and not stumble into judicial limbo for ‘new’ acts like the escraches,” Spain’s Huffington Post quoted the Interior Ministry as saying.

“Escraches,” a kind of demonstration popular in Spain and Latin America, where protesters lobby outside the homes or offices of officials, have escalated this year, most notably those staged by the Movement of Mortgage Victims. The group lobbied outside politicians’ homes to protest the repossession of homes.

The law will first have to pass through the commission of undersecretaries, then analyzed in the Council of Ministers, followed by a State Council opinion and the General Council of the Judiciary, before being sent back to be discussed as organic law in the courts.