The reform of the ‘gag law’ and the criticisms of the police, under examination: “The offender will have more truth than us” | Spain

Participants in the police protest held this Wednesday before the Government Delegation in Madrid carry posters against the reform of the 'gag law'.
Participants in the police protest held this Wednesday before the Government Delegation in Madrid carry posters against the reform of the ‘gag law’.A. Pérez Meca (Europa Press)

“The offender becomes more truthful than us.” “Now it turns out that we cannot respond to violence and direct attacks.” “Why do I have to see my face on social media?” The national police, civil guards and agents of the autonomous and local bodies who protested this Wednesday before numerous delegations and sub-delegations of the Government for the reform project of the Citizen Security Law – known as gag law– They showed signs in which they assured that their families were in “danger”, that they would be obliged to act as “taxi drivers” for the suspects or that “without security there is no freedom”. In the statement read at the end of the rallies, the organizers of the event focused on various points of the new rule as the most damaging to their daily activity. However, part of his criticism is refuted by a ruling of the Constitutional Court and the very literality of the amendments presented by PSOE and United We Can, the Government parties.

Deadline to identify. Miguel, a civil guard who participated in the protest in Madrid, assured this Wednesday that the supposed reduction from six to two hours of the maximum time that the agents will have to identify the author of an infraction to the Citizen Security Law who does not carry his documentation on top or refuses to deliver it “may be feasible in cities, but not in rural areas, where our patrols have a scope of action of dozens of kilometers and it takes a long time to get to the barracks to make the arrangements. This can leave many events unpunished ”, he adds. Despite the affirmations of the police organizations, the amendment that the Government intends to introduce into the law actually leaves that period open until the current six hours, although, yes, only in an “exceptional” way and when there are “justified and verified reasons. ”, Which must be communicated to the person to be identified.

Truthfulness of the agents. Mariló Valencia, general secretary of the Unified Police Union (SUP) in Andalusia and participant in the protest before the Malaga sub-delegation, affirmed that the reform gives the same value to the testimony of a police officer as that of the person to be punished. In this way, he assured, “many actions are left without legal coverage.” The reform proposed by the Government not only does not eliminate the presumption of veracity of the agents, but it maintains it. It only affects that the exposition of the facts that he / she makes in the record that he / she must fill in to impose the administrative sanction for the alleged infringement of the gag law It must record an account of the events that is “coherent, logical and reasonable, unless there is evidence to the contrary.”

Riot gear. The same police leader claimed that the new rule prevented the use of rubber balls to suppress violent incidents in demonstrations. “Now it turns out that we cannot respond to the violence and direct attacks on police that we encounter in the course of our work, as is happening these days in Cádiz,” he said, referring to the recent incidents during the protests of metal workers. . The proposal of the parties that make up the Government does not cut the riot gear of ordinary use, such as rubber balls. It only indicates the obligation on the part of “the competent authorities” – referring to the Ministry of the Interior and the autonomous governments that have transferred the competences in matters of citizen security – to develop “specific protocols in accordance with international standards” on the use of force and the use of anti-riot equipment to “always use the least harmful means for people and avoiding those that cause irreparable injuries.”

Demonstrations without notice. Police groups criticize that the law supposedly allows demonstrations to be held without prior notice. “It is terrible that the demonstrations can be called spontaneously,” said this Wednesday Ramón Cosío, SUP spokesman in the Basque Country. Cosío, who was attending the Bilbao rally, gave as a hypothetical example that two demonstrations of the opposite sign were convened without communicating and through social networks in the same place. “We would not have time to organize security or a device to protect people,” he added. In this sense, the proposed text does not eliminate the consideration as a minor infraction of lacking the “prior communication process”, but indicates that it will not be a sufficient reason “to prevent the exercise of the freedoms of assembly and demonstration.” Nor does it close the possibility of their being dissolved, although it considers that this measure should be “the last resort”. Interior insists that the changes “do not substantially modify police work” in the demonstrations.

Drug possession. The reform proposal put forward by the Government contemplates that the possession of narcotic substances for personal use goes from a serious offense to a minor one. This translates, in practice, to a reduction in the amount of the penalty, which until now was in the range between 601 and 30,000 euros of fine and would go to between 100 and 600 euros. The police organizations consider that both reductions can be an incentive for drug trafficking, ignoring that the latter is a crime and, therefore, is outside the Citizen Security Law, which only contemplates administrative infractions that do not reach, precisely, the offense range.

Police recordings. Although the organizers of the rallies on Wednesday did not include it in the manifesto they read at the end of the act, numerous posters carried by the protesters pointed to the alleged defenselessness that caused them not to sanction the recording and dissemination of the image of the policemen in the course of their professional activity. “It violates our personal life. Distributing these images for free and with manipulation can be a problem for our personal lives ”, complained an agent who participated in the Malaga protest. In this case, the modification of the rule is required by the ruling of the Constitutional Court, of January 2021, which concluded that the expression “not authorized” included in the article of the gag law that it made reference to the use of images and personal data of the agents was unconstitutional. The proposed wording of the article deletes these two words, but continues to prohibit their use “when it creates a certain danger to your personal or family safety or that of the protected facilities or puts the success of an operation at risk.” The text will emphasize that this “dangerous situation” must be recorded “in the minutes or in the complaint in as much detail as possible.”

Return to the offender. The agents wielded posters in the rallies in which they criticized that the reform of the gag law He was going to turn them into “taxi drivers”, considering that he was forcing them to return to the place where the people transferred to the police station to be identified had been intercepted. “If he is a pedophile, do we identify him and take him back to the park where we found him because he has nothing?” The SUP spokesman in Euskadi, Ramón Cosío, denounced at the Bilbao concentration. The reform proposed by the government parties does not say that these transfers must always be made. In fact, it only contemplates them when the person has been displaced to a location other than the one where the request was made “and provided that the transfer does not seriously affect the effective functioning of the services.” In his criticisms, the police officer again alluded to facts, such as pedophilia, which are crimes and, therefore, are outside the Citizen Security Law.

With information from Juan Navarro (Valladolid), Cristina Huete (Orense), Pedro Gorospe (Bilbao), Nacho Sánchez (Málaga), Virginia Vadillo (Murcia), Ferrán Bono (Valencia) and Rafa Burgos (Alicante).

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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