The Council of Europe on Tuesday expressed concern about the Popular Party (PP) government's proposed Citizen Security Law, which calls for steep fines for certain actions taken by people during public demonstrations.
At a press briefing in Brussels, Nils Muiznieks, the commissioner for human rights, called the bill “disproportionate” and said it violates the rights to assembly and protest.
“When I see a potential fine of up to 600,000 euros for holding an unauthorized demonstration in front with a government building, I would like for someone to convince me that that is a proportionate penalty,” said Muiznieks.
The commissioner said he was aware of the complaints being filed by lawyers groups, activists and judges associations, who have all joined the opposition in demanding that the Rajoy government withdraw the bill.
The Cabinet approved the bill on Friday and Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz, one of the architects of the measure, said it would be passed by the PP-controlled Congress early next year.
“If you don’t let people have their say before, they’ll have their say afterwards in the streets,” Muiznieks pointed out.
This isn’t the first time the Council of Europe slammed the Spanish government’s treatment of demonstrators at rallies. In a report issued in October, the commissioner criticized security officers for their disproportionate use of force against anti-austerity protestors.