ONCE again, Spain's healthcare system is the best in Europe – it's official. And State medical services in the country are the third-most efficient on earth, beaten only by those of Hong Kong and Singapore...
Amnesty International condemns 'gagging law': 34,000 fined for actions 'permitted by EU rules'
AMNESTY International has denounced Spain's so-called 'gagging law', which led to 34,000 fines being dished out last year alone.
Of these, at least 12,000 were for 'disobedience of or resistance to authority', which can be as inoffensive as refusing to show one's ID when requested to for absolutely no reason.
'Disobedience' and 'resistance' also cover staging demonstrations which do not have express written permission from the provincial authorities – and as the authorities are able to block any demonstrations they do not agree with, this effectively eradicates the right to social activism and freedom of expression.
A refugee charity in Gandia (Valencia province) held peaceful gatherings once a week on their town hall steps holding banners, to raise awareness of the plight of those fleeing conflict and poverty, and with the full knowledge and consent of the local council – but they were fined €601 for 'demonstrating without written permission' from the provincial government.
Amnesty International says the majority of these fines were in response to behaviour or actions which are 'covered by the right to gathering, expression, and information'.
Many of the fines, which can range from €601 to €30,000, have been applied to demonstrations or protests in which there were no incidences of violence or disorderly behaviour, Amnesty International points out.
The organisation also calculates that nearly 19,500 fines have been dished out for 'lack of respect or consideration towards' officers.
These fines are applicable for arguing reasonably with an officer, for taking photographs of police in the course of duty, and some cases reported that ended in fines have included pictures of patrol cars parked in disabled bays or on yellow kerbs uploaded onto social media – or even, in at least one case in the Comunidad Valenciana, of members of the public speaking valenciano to officers and refusing to switch to Castilian Spanish when asked.
If all the fines had been paid, the government would have clawed back €3 million last year alone through the 'gagging law', says Amnesty International.
They say the 'gagging law' gives police forces 'licence to behave randomly', which ends up 'harming the rights to freedom of gathering, of speech and of information'.
“It's not acceptable that any old officer can demand your ID when you haven't done anything, and then fine you nine months later,” argued Amnesty International leader Esteban Beltrán.
Beltrán also says that the 32 fines levied for 'distribution of photographs of security forces and authority figures in the course of duty' is a form of censorship, since members of the public who may be affected by police malpractice are unable to take pictures to use as evidence.
Amnesty International has called for the 'gagging law' to be 'abolished completely', since it effectively punishes and fines people for actions which are perfectly legal under wider legislation, including European Union law.
More Community/Public Services content
HOPEFULLY, you'll have realised today (Friday) is a national public holiday before going out shopping and finding everywhere closed – although if you're in Catalunya, you'll probably still be able to pick...
LEFT-WING party Podemos wants to ban any type of physical violence against children or teenagers, starting with the most socially-acceptable forms: smacking hands or bottoms, shaking, or similar 'disciplinary...
TWO cases of dengue fever have been confirmed in Spain for the first time ever – and experts say they are 'not surprised' it has put in an appearance in the country. A tropical disease passed on by mosquitoes,...