‘Unconstitutional’ law against foreigners
11 February 2004
MADRID – Human rights groups and unions launched a campaign Wednesday against what they claim are “unconstitutional” law reforms concerning foreigners.
Spain’s two main unions, the Commission of Liberties and Information and the Association of Human Rights, are to ask regional governments to oppose reforms to the Law for Foreigners.
They will ask regional governments to make a case to the Public Defender, or Ombudsman, that the law is unconstitutional.
They claim that the law violates various sections of the Magna Carta in relation to the right to ‘intimacy and equality’ and against discrimination and fundamental rights.
They also claim it also contravenes the Law for the Protection of Data which relates to personal data being available to public bodies.
At a press conference Wednesday, they argued that it is unconstitutional in two aspects: police can now get access to census material and transport companies are obliged to divulge information about their passengers.
The reforms became law in December and were introduced by the conservative government of prime minister Jose Maria Aznar in an effort to crack down on illegal immigration into Spain.
Recent studies showed that 2.6 million people in Spain were foreigners – or 6 percent of the population.
But the authorities believe that the real figure – as a result of a sharp increase in illegal immigrants – is probably much higher.
The change which allows access to census material is designed to allow police to be able to track immigrants.
Transport companies should supply authorities with information about passengers in order to discourage them from taking illegal immigrants.
But according to Almudena Fontecha, secretary general of the General Workers Union, the reform of the law permits police to get access to census material in general terms and not as before, only in the course of a criminal investigation.
She said: “This means in practical terms the majority of immigrants will simply disappear and it provides an incentive for them not to register” for fear of being discovered or expelled by the police.
In this way, regional governments in the Basque Country and Catalonia will deny giving census information to police because “they found that since the law changed, people have not been registering”
But the government has claimed that the change in the law gives the police greater powers to stop illegal immigrants – but does not affect legal immigrants.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news