Spain’s Public Safety Bill as “Administrative Law of the Enemy

A few days ago, the Spanish Congress approved by absolute majority (179 votes) a new Public Safety Bill (Proyecto de Ley Orgánica de Seguridad Ciudadana). This law, if it becomes enacted (which it certainly will), will give the Spanish government sweeping powers to crack down on peaceful demonstrations, to mention just one of several disturbing features of what seems to be a piece of “administrative law of the enemy”.

The Public Safety Bill is a so-called “organic law”. According to the Spanish Constitution (art. 81), organic laws are those that relate to the development of funda­mental rights and public liberties, establish Statutes of Autonomy and the general electoral system, and other laws provided in the Constitution. To pass, amend or repeal them an absolute majority in Congress is required. The Senate has to decide within two months of receiving the text if it vetoes it or introduce amendments. The veto must be passed by an absolute majority (art. 91 of Spanish Constitution). However, the text will probably be approved unchanged by the Senate, since the majority of the Popular Party in the Senate is the same as in Congress.

The draft bill proposes in its Preamble, as reasons for its enactment: a “perspective over time that shows the strengths and weaknesses of the legal rules, social changes in our country, the new forms of a safety risk and citizen’s tranquillity, the new content that social demands included in this concept …”

Nevertheless, the new perspective on the shortcomings of the law currently in force, the Organic Law 1/1992, of Public Safety (Ley Orgánica 1/1992, de Seguridad Ciudadana, LOSC) is not explained in the Preamble of the bill, as what social changes have occurred or to what new forms of citizen security and what the new risks to peace may be.

The Spanish Government is concerned about the increasing number of demonstrations and this legislative project aims to avoid them ...

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