Monday, August 17, 2015
A woman in Spain has been fined €800 after posting a photograph to her Facebook account of a police vehicle parked in space reserved for disabled/handicapped drivers. She was located and fined within two days of posting the photograph. The incident has now gained international attention.
The woman, who has not been named, saw the police vehicle parked in a reserved spot in Petrer and snapped a photo. She posted the photo with the caption: “Park where you bloody well please and you won’t even be fined.” ((es)) Spanish Language: Aparcas donde te sale de los cojones y encima no te multan…
Fernando Portillo, a local police spokesperson, told local media the vehicle was parked there because police were responding to an emergency. After the story was reported on a local news website, it began to be reported internationally.
On July 1, the “Citizens’ Security law” went into effect. The law was written in response to violent protests. Even before its enactment it saw widespread criticism. It was dubbed the “gag law” ((es)) Spanish language: ley mordaza or the “gagging law”. The law prohibits “the unauthorized use of images of police officers that might jeopardize their or their family’s safety or that of protected facilities or police operations” ((es)) Spanish language: El uso no autorizado de imágenes o datos personales o profesionales de autoridades o miembros de las Fuerzas y Cuerpos de Seguridad que pueda poner en peligro la seguridad personal o familiar de los agentes, de las instalaciones protegidas o en riesgo el éxito de una operación .
Judge Joaquim Bosch, Judges for Democracy spokesperson, said: “It is not a law for citizens’ security, but a law for the government to avoid citizens’ protests. All opinion polls indicate that the Spanish society is not at all preoccupied by security but by the economic situation and political corruption.”
Amnesty International condemned the law in a report: “With threats of fines or threats of being beaten, the government is trying to stigmatize and criminalize people who are just practicing their rights.” Virginia Álvarez, who wrote the report, noted, “instead of listening to their demands, instead of starting a dialogue, authorities are doing everything they can to impede people from protesting”.
The part of the law which prohibits “the unauthorized use of images of police officers that might jeopardize their or their family’s safety” is cited as the reason for the fine, however, police spokesperson Fernando Portillo said it was up to police officers involved and under the new law they could do this. “We would have preferred a different solution but they have the legal right to impose the fine,” Portillo said, but the public posting of the photo impugned the officers’ sense of honor.