Spanish parliament seeks power to crackdown on protestors

19 July, 18:48

(ANSAMed) - Madrid, July 19 - Spain's parliament introduced a motion to reinforce security at "demonstrations and concentrations of citizens" Thursday, as protests toward government austerity measures to cut 65 billion euros from public spending drew crowds in Madrid.

The motion would introduce a new crime to the penal code - that of "urban violence" committed during demonstrations and meetings - as well as possible "preventative" imprisonment for menacing behavior such as possession of dangerous materials, possession of tools that could be used for illegal acts, and concealment of identity by donning ski masks, head scarves and the like.

The initiative, which drew bitter criticism from left and center parties, also proposes non-prison penalties for organizing "activities that alter public order" via Internet, such as diffusing information intended to promote participation in protests.

"Activities that alter public order" would also be redefined to include passive resistance and disobedience of authorities, proposes creating a national register of perpetrators to track repeat offenders.

The motion drew bitter criticism from Spain's center and left opposition parties. Pedro Jose' Munoz, a spokesperson for the leftist PSOE party, called the motion "a precedent that recalls the penal code of Franco", referring to Fancisco Franco, a nationalist dictator who ruled Spain from 1936 through the early 1970's.

Munos added it was an "absolutely unnecessary" change to the "law that governs the right to demonstrate and to meet", because it risks the "criminalization of all those who in these days are demonstrating against the unjust measure passed by the government." (ANSAmed).