Monday, April 22

The reform of the gag law runs aground due to the differences between the Government and its partners


Demonstration against the gag law after its approval in 2015. / AFP

Hot expulsions, rubber balls or the veracity of the agents’ statements become points of friction

Melchor Saiz-Pardo

The controversial ‘gag law’, in force since July 2015 by the then majority of the PP, is firmly on its way to completing seven years of life intact despite the current parliamentary majority in favor of its reform and the continuous promises of Pedro Sánchez to end this rule since his arrival at Moncloa in June 2018.

The reason is that the Government and its investiture partners (particularly ERC, PNV, EH Bildu and Junts) are unable to agree on the aspects to be modified despite the fact that the meetings have been taking place since January 2020. Moreover, far of a rapprochement, in recent weeks the parties in favor of reform have run aground in their negotiations. And not only that. Even the differences between the Executive parties are widening as the negotiations progress, despite the fact that PSOE and United We Can presented a common text of amendments in November last year.

PSOE, United We Can, ERC, PNV, EH Bildu and Junts, the six coalition formations for the reform of the Organic Law on Citizen Security, have not met since last March, given the impossibility of advancing in the drafting of the key articles. These parties, after tough discussions on the sidelines of the paper work with the rest of the formations, have decided to postpone contacts until after Easter to give themselves time to try to iron out rough edges.

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The points of friction are above all between the PSOE, on the one hand, and ERC, EH Bildu and United We Can, on the other. The socialists want to remove the ‘hot expulsions’ to introduce them in the immigration law, while their partners want them to disappear from any normative text; ERC and Bildu are firm advocates of banning rubber balls by law, while the socialists are inclined to bet on the least harmful means possible, although without vetoing rubber balls; and the PSOE does not see with good eyes the suppression of the presumption of veracity of the statements of the agents that their investiture allies ask for and that has stirred up the police.

Identifications

Another of the battlefields in which they are fighting at this time is the demand of the partners that the conditions in which the agents can carry out police identifications on public roads be toughened. They insist that the reform must require that officials must prove before requesting the DNI that there is “proof” of a crime or, at least, “clear indications” of the commission of that crime. The amendments being discussed want to put an end to “arbitrary identifications”, particularly for racial reasons, according to sources from the Interior Commission.

Minorities have also embarked on a crusade so that many of the offenses now typified as minor and punishable by up to 600 euros cease to be so, such as: lack of respect for the security forces; the occupation of real estate; do not carry your DNI with you; the refusal to show the documentation; the scaling of buildings or monuments; the removal of fences, curbs or other fixed or mobile elements placed by the Security Forces and Bodies; or the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places.

To further strain the atmosphere among the investiture majority, an ERC text has been added last week in which the Republicans present eleven red lines that, according to the Catalan formation, would prevent them from voting in favor of the reform. A threat that endangers the 175 affirmative votes necessary to carry out the modifications, as it is an organic law.


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