Thousands of police demonstrated in Madrid on Saturday against plans to reform a controversial security law prohibiting the unauthorized use of police footage if it puts them at risk.
The rally focused on plans by the left-wing Spanish government to change the citizen security law known as the “gag law”, passed in 2015 under the former right-wing administration at the height of the protests anti-austerity.
The reform bill seeks to bring the law into line with a ruling by the Constitutional Court that requiring permission to use police footage was “unconstitutional” as it amounted to “prior censorship”.
Waving Spanish flags and union banners, protesters, accompanied by senior right-wing politicians, marched to the Interior Ministry in a rally called by Jusapol, an umbrella organization from which police unions emerged. and the Guardia Civil.
They say such a reform would remove protection from police and security forces, endanger public safety and reduce the operational capacity to stop violent protests.
“We say no to this reform. We believe that the law must be adapted to the present times and must be reformed, but we must never violate the rights of security officials who work with this law every day, ”the president of Jusapol told reporters, Miguel Ángel Gómez.
Speaking at the march, opposition leader Pablo Casado, who heads the right-wing Popular Party, said he fully supported the protesters’ demands.
“Every day four police officers are assaulted and it is absolutely intolerable,” Casado said, urging Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez “to listen to the streets and the thousands of police officers who risked their lives to defend Spanish democracy and freedom” .
“It is extraordinary that for the first time in our democracy, those who risk their lives to protect us must demonstrate because they are left unprotected,” he said earlier.
Other right-wing politicians also joined the march, including Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right Vox party and Ines Arrimadas, leader of the center-right Ciudadanos party.
“Basically what this law does is take protection from the police and criminalize them, casting doubt on them and favoring those who attack them,” Arrimadas said.
“We are tired of the fact that in Spain criminals have more protection than the police and those who obey the law.”
Under the current law, the unauthorized use of images of police officers that could endanger their safety is a serious offense, violators face fines of between 600 and 10,400 euros.
The reforms also propose changes to fines, which would be proportional to the income of offenders, and riot control equipment with possibly the least harmful means to use.