Shock Spanish Government u-turn on proposed reforms to the ‘Gag law’

Spain's National Police announce reinforcements ahead of Europa League final in Seville. Image: @policia/ Twitter

SPAIN’S ruling political party has reportedly watered down plans to reform laws which have seen protests banned after the Prime Minister previously said changes were urgently needed.
The left-leaning Partido Socialista (PSOE) government has ruled out repealing measures in the Public Safety Law including ones to stop the filming of police officers and ‘express’ or ‘hot’ deportations.
The latter refers to immigration authorities being able to immediately send migrants back to Morocco instead of processing them in Spain first. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is currently hearing a case filed by two migrants who were deported under the rules.
Reports of backtracking on reform plans, based on internal government documents seen by Spanish media, come as the PSOE and laid out plans for changes they do support.
Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said it was “essential” that some elements of the law are repealed.
“Some parts of the law are a specific and effective violation of the right to assemble and associate freely and of the right to information,” the minister said.
Grande-Marlaska added the repeal of express deportations should be dealt with under the framework of immigration laws.
Politicians should wait until the case concerning the two sub-Saharan migrants being heard in the ECHR in Strasbourg is resolved, Grande-Marlaska added.
PSOE proposals to change the law, which are backed by their leftist Podemos allies in Parliament, include ending requirements to notify the authorities before staging protests.
The party also reportedly wants to curb police powers and make it easier for people to identify officers on duty.
Proposed changes include only allowing body searches if there is “concrete and verifiable” evidence of wrongdoing and limiting the time detainees can be held charge.
Plans to abolish fines for filming police officers have been toned down. The PSOE now wants to keep the restrictions in cases where it could endanger officers, their families or investigations.
The news comes as government data shows the Public Safety Law has resulted in the government collecting almost €270 million in fines from the law since it was introduced. The figure excludes fines collected this year.

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Joe Gerrard

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