Spain's ruling People's party on Thursday introduced strict new laws against public protests, which would impose fines on activists who take part in unauthorized protests. The legislation also prohibits [Guardian report] publishing images of police, interrupting public events, possessing illegal drugs, vandalizing public property and drinking alcohol in the street. Opponents argue that the law impedes democracy, though proponents of law allege that the law is meant to protect citizens. Under the law, unauthorized demonstrators could face a fine of €600,000 (USD $810,000). The legislation follows heavy protesting in Spain and will likely be followed with more, as opponents demonstrate their disapproval of the harsh penalties for the listed offenses.
In February the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] criticized [JURIST report] Egypt for drafting a similar anti-protest law for failure to adequately protect freedom of assembly as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text] and two international rights treaties ratified by Egypt. Last year the Spanish government faced criticism [Telegraph report] after introducing legislation that aimed to reduce public demonstrations by restricting the use of social networking. The measures were criticized by many, with some people comparing the measures to those of Gen. Grancisco Franco's regime.