defending rights and civil liberties

Seminar on Criminal Code

In the current context of economic crisis in Spain, citizens are expressing their opposition to and criticism of government’s austerity and reform measures drastically cutting back on basic public social services and fundamental rights and liberties, by holding peaceful demonstrations. State authorities have reacted to this popular opposition by increasingly applying security-related measures and mechanisms. While security provisions are being applied to protesters, claims of excessive use of police force against peaceful participants are very rarely being investigated.

In parallel, the draft Criminal Code bill introduces amendments and new offences that may be interpreted as effectively criminalizing social protests, insofar as the application of vague limitations may hinder the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Moreover, the reform does not meet the international standards that any restriction of human rights must comply with in order to be lawful: legality, justification, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination.

The organizers consider it is therefore necessary to examine and debate Spanish experience and practice relating to the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as well as the risks and challenges to their effective exercise. In the first session we will discuss the international legal human rights framework and how restrictions of rights must be made in order to be lawful. In the second session, we will then analyze whether the current Criminal Code reform complies with this framework.

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