Spain’s rights groups have criticized the government for introducing a new security law aimed at limiting public protests.
On Thursday, Spain’s lower house of parliament, known as the Congress of Deputies, approved a highly contentious bill that puts major restrictions on holding protests.
The law introduces hefty fines for unauthorized protests outside strategic installations. The legislation also allows for the summary expulsion of migrants that try to enter the country illegally.
The bill was ratified with the votes of the ruling conservative Popular Party with all opposition parties voting against it.
Opposition parties and rights groups argue that the strict law violates the right to protest, limits freedom of expression, and gives more power to police. They regard the proposed law as an attempt by the Madrid government to muzzle the protests over its handling of Spain’s economic crisis.
“The law essentially aims to discourage people from exercising their fundamental rights,” said Joaquim Bosch, the spokesman for Judges for Democracy, an association of judges and magistrates.
Spain has been hit by a wave of anti-austerity demonstrations and strikes since the country’s economy fell into recession in 2008.
The Spaniards are angry at the government’s austerity cuts, arguing that such measures have resulted in more job losses over the past years.