Today marks the 7th anniversary of the entry into force of the Gag Law. A look back at that year prior to approval, given the close threat of what was to come, reminds us of the enormous response from civil society, the media, artists and citizens in general. There were from large demonstrations to the creation of holograms protesting in front of Congress, which reached a global audience of more than 800 million people. Even four UN rapporteurs warned that, if the Gag Law is approved, would undermine the rights of demonstration and expression in Spain.
In those times, despite the fact that on July 1, 2015 this law came into force with the absolute majority of the Popular Party government, social mobilization achieved the commitment of repeal or full reform by the majority of the parties, which soon after would have sufficient parliamentary representation to approve or amend laws.
But time has passed and the Citizen Security Law is still there, just as it was left that year, generating a very negative impact on the lives of thousands of people. Not only because of the slam that caused civil society participation spaces, but also by reducing many social struggles aimed at promoting advances in rights, with the discouraging effect that causes its activists to focus their efforts on paying unfair fines.
Nor can we forget, even more so after the tragedy of last Friday, June 24, about what Amnesty International has identified as solid signs of eight human rights violations committed at the Melilla fence and the Moroccan borderamong which is the terrible impact caused by the detestable and inhumane returns in hot weather, which they wanted to legalize by incorporating an additional provision in the Citizen Security Law.
But let’s think for a moment what would happen if this Gag Law were reformed, aligning it with international human rights standards. Let’s imagine that there were no longer arbitrary sanctions, such as those imposed by applying the articles of disobedience to authority, refusal to identify oneself or lack of respect or consideration for the police. Let us consider that independent mechanisms for the control of police abuses were established, which would discourage arbitrary and disproportionate actions by the security forces and bodies. Or that journalists could not be punished for reporting, as happened to Javier Bauluz when he denounced the inhumane treatment of migrants crowded into the Arguineguín dock in the Canary Islands. Let us also project the prohibition of racist raids, the use of rubber bullets, which cause serious injuries and even loss of life, or that even the summary and collective expulsions at the border, the sadly famous hot returns, be ended. What scenario would it take us to?
To begin with, this government would have kept its word. The recommendations of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe would have been incorporated, and the public would be shown that a broad civil society that has been mobilized and presenting reports on the impacts of violations of rights of the law since 2015 is being listened to. does not stay here In addition, those who mobilize in defense of rights would feel that doing so does not threaten their pockets or their physical integrity, much less for those who dedicate their time to improving the lives of all. This could have repercussions on greater mobilization to advance rights such as health and public education, decent work, reducing inequality and ensuring that “no one is left behind”, a wish expressed by the Government itself.
But the reality today seems far from this dream. The reform of the Gag Law is still hanging in an eternal debate in Congress. If the partners of the current investiture agreed to carry it out, it would be a reality, but apparently it is very complex. It is worth asking, to say the least, what the problem is, and what can be done to break this deadlock situation.
The government agreement to reform the law that was announced in November 2021 remained as a tepid modification proposal, almost a mere make-up, which did not touch a large part of the articles that have been repeatedly denounced. In view of this, once again civil society has tried to facilitate the work, pointing out top 8 concerns that should be addressed, has been mobilized again with protest actions in more than 25 cities throughout the Spanish State, achieving the adhesion of more than 130 groups and organizations and it has been sent to the parties committed to the reform. To date, the response has been only lukewarm announcements of a future unlocking, quite a bit of silence from the authorities, a reform that has not arrived, feelings of fraud and disappointment.
Time is running out, and actions such as those of June 24 on the border of Melilla with Morocco, practicing hot returns, with batons and tear gas canisters towards people fleeing war and persecution and who have the right to request international protection, celebrating police actions that are estimated to have resulted in at least 37 deaths, and statements by the President of the Government the following day in which he did not request an independent and exhaustive investigation, nor did he even offer words of condolences to the families of the victims , take us to a very dark present and future scenario.
Back in 2015 The New York Times announced that this Gag Law takes us back to the Franco regime. This government can still offer light in the face of this gloomy panorama. But time, and credibility, are running out. Nor is it worth doing it in the last minute of the game, because then there may be no room for positive impact, and it will be too late.
For those of us who believe that a better world is possible, in which we are committed to improving the lives of all people and our diminished environment, we are also at risk of losing the opportunity to reverse the setback in rights and freedoms that the Gag Law meant . Let’s be brave, dream and push forward to make it come true. Since to live in a land that advances in human rights, it inevitably goes through achieving a country without gags.