We reported just last week that the first known individual to fall foul of Spain’s controversial new so-called “gagging law” spoke out against what he saw as the repression of free speech after he received a fine for describing his local police force as “slackers” on Facebook. Facebook users in Spain are urged to take extra care with their postings and be aware of the requirements and responsibilities regarding the new Spanish legislation.
This weekend an unnamed woman, a resident of Petrer in Alicante on Spains’ Costa Blanca, posted the photo on her Facebook page with the comment “Park where you bloody well please and you won’t even be fined”. The local police tracked her down within 48 hours and fined her.
The Citizens Security Law, popularly known as the gagging law and which came into force on 1st July, prohibits “the unauthorised use of images of police officers that might jeopardise their or their familys’ safety or that of protected facilities or police operations”.
Amnesty International condemned the law, saying that photographing police was vital in cases when excessive force had been used. Fines under this section of the law range from €600 to €30,000.
Fernando Portillo, a spokesman for the local police in Alicante, said the officers had parked in the disabled bay because they had been called to deal with an incident of vandalism in a nearby park. A rapid response is essential if they are to catch the offenders “in flagranti”, he told local media, adding that in an emergency the police park where they can.
Asked how the photo had put the police at risk, he said the officers felt the woman had impugned their honour by posting the picture on Facebook and referred the incident to the town hall authorities. “We would have preferred a different solution but they have the legal right to impose a fine” Portillo said.
Last month two couples in Córdoba were reportedly fined €300 (£208) each for consuming alcohol in a public place, although they claimed to have had only soft drinks and a pizza. The gagging law also prohibits demonstrations in the vicinity of parliament or the senate, trying to prevent an eviction or actions of passive resistance such as sit-down protests in the street. Prosecuted offenders face astronomical fines of up to €600,000 (£417,000).