Podemos defends push to change Spain’s controversial ‘gag law’

Leader calls legislation ‘greatest blow to civil and political liberties’ since return to democracy

By Sam Jones

The leader of Spain’s Podemos party has defended the coalition government’s push to change its predecessor’s “gag law”, calling it “the greatest blow to civil and political liberties” since the country’s return to democracy.

Ione Belarra, who serves as the minister for social rights in the Socialist-led minority government, said the public security legislation had eroded basic democratic rights since it was introduced by the conservative People’s party (PP) six years ago.

The so-called gag law – which has been criticised by UN experts, journalists and human rights groups – allows authorities to fine journalists and media organisations who distribute unauthorised images of police, sets strict limits on when and where protests can be held and imposes hefty financial penalties on offenders.

The PP, the far-right Vox party and dozens of policing groups are opposing the changes, claiming they will impede officers’ ability to do their job and tilt things in favour of criminals.

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