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    A Spanish flag flies at half staff in memory of Spain's former Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez at the Parliament in Madrid, Spain

    HRW Calls on Spain to Abandon Bill Restricting Freedom of Speech, Assembly

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    Spaniards will have to pay up to 600 euro ($752) for organizing protests that have not been registered with authorities.

    MOSCOW, November 24 (Sputnik) — Spain should give up a controversial public security bill, which may restrict freedom of speech and assembly in the country, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement released Monday.

    "The public security bill presents a direct threat to the rights of peaceful assembly and free speech in Spain. The government is trying to give itself broad discretion to curtail and punish dissent," Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at HRW, was quoted in the statement as saying.

    According to the watchdog, the proposed bill would enable the government to impose fines for spontaneous protests and for lack of respect for law enforcement representatives. Spaniards will have to pay up to 600 euro ($752) for organizing protests that have not been registered with authorities. However, fines could reach up to 600,000 euros ($752,972) for serious infractions.

    The bill will also legalize the expulsion of asylum seekers from Spain's North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, a practice, which, according to HRW, is currently being actively exercised.

    "If ever there was a time for conscientious Popular Party parliamentarians to break ranks, this is it. They should not allow Spain to become the European country that stifles voices on the street and tramples fundamental rights," Sunderland added.

    Spain has witnessed multiple street rallies since the economic crisis struck the country in 2008. Protesters have demanded a radical change in Spanish politics.

    In June, thousands of Spaniards throughout the country rallied against the monarchy, which was caught up in a number of corruption scandals, calling for the establishment of a republic.


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    freedom of speech, legislation, protests, Human Rights Watch, Spain
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