A proposed reform of a contested security law in Spain failed Tuesday after Catalan and Basque parties voted against it in a parliamentary commission, arguing it did not go far enough.
Dubbed the “Gag Law” by those who oppose it, the legislation passed in 2015 by a previous conservative government allows authorities to impose hefty fines against unauthorised demonstrations or in case of attempts to block home evictions.
The law was seen as an attempt by the government to curb social unrest and protests against its austerity measures.
Critics, including Amnesty International and other rights groups, argue it limits free expression and violates the right to protest.
A reform of the law put forward by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s minority coalition government proposed several changes, including lowering some fines and slashing the time suspects arrested at protests may be held in custody.
But Catalan separatist party ERC and Basque pro-independence party Bildu — which usually help the government pass legislation — opposed the reform because the law would continue to allow police to use rubber bullets.
The two parties also objected that the law would still allow pushbacks of migrants at Spain’s borders by security forces.
Bildu lawmaker Jon Inarritu told Basque television his party voted against the proposed reform because it maintains “the repressive corpus of the previous ‘gag law’”.
It seems difficult for the government to propose another reform of the security law and get it approved by parliament before a general election expected in December.
“This reform would have been desirable,” government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez told a news conference following a weekly cabinet meeting.
“It is a shame that a law that was expected by citizens could not be adopted,” she added.
Thousands of Spanish police officers protested in Madrid earlier this month against the planned to reform the security law.
They were especially angered that under the proposed reform, the taking of photographs or making of recordings of police at demonstrations would no longer be classified as a serious offence.