Civil Liberties

Spain Looks to Ban Photos, Videos of Police

Nothing to do with them beating up protesters, they promise


Claiming that their truncheon-waving riot police are the ones actually in danger, Spain is drafting a law banning the photography or videotaping of police in the line of duty. Russia Today has some information:

Spain's government is drafting a law that bans the photographing and filming of members of the police. The Interior Ministry assures they are not cracking down on freedom of expression, but protecting the lives of law enforcement officers.

­The draft legislation follows waves of protests throughout the country against uncompromising austerity cuts to public healthcare and education.

The new Citizen Safety Law will prohibit "the capture, reproduction and editing of images, sounds or information of members of the security or armed forces in the line of duty," said the director general of the police, Ignacio Cosido. He added that this new bill seeks to "find a balance between the protection of citizens' rights and those of security forces."

The dissemination of images and videos over social networks like Facebook will also be punishable under the legislation.

Here's a lovely video showing Spain's police at work in 2011 (fast-forward to the 2:00 mark for the good stuff):

A report at Global Voices highlights some of the claims of police abuse at the more recent protests over Spain's pursuit of austerity:

Once again, the social networks were the most commonly used means of sharing impressions, slogans and material about the events. Indignation about the police brutality continues to be one of the most commented and criticized aspects. A multitude of videos show arbitrary arrests, the intimidation of journalists, and protestors being hit and chased, including inside Atocha train station. Besides home videos, devices allowing events to be streamed such as Toma la Tele played an important role.

It is important to note the reaction of spontaneous support displayed on the net which has transformed the manager of a local bar into a hero. He prevented the police from entering his establishment where a group of protestors who were being chased had found refuge. Another widely circulated video on the Internet shows evidence of police infiltrators dressed as citizens. The video goes on to show a scene in which the riot police hit an individual and he identifies himself as a policeman shouting: "I'm a colleague, damn it." This phrase later became a hashtag on Twitter. Amnesty International Spain announced that it will request an investigation by the Interior Ministry [es] to clarify what the infiltrators were doing there and whether their intention was to break up the protest. The police were also criticised for not wearing their identification badges. 

So if the police weren't wearing badges and recording them violated the law, it would quite neatly make it impossible to hold abusive police accountable. Not that there appears to be much effort anyway.