MADRID — United Nations human rights experts on Monday urged Spain's Senate to reject two proposed bills, saying they threaten fundamental rights and freedoms.
The five experts issued a statement expressing concern about the Public Security Law and the Penal Code projects and called on Spain to take steps to guarantee fundamental rights and public freedoms.
The statement, issued in Geneva, said the Public Security Law, which it referred to as the 'gag law,' violates the very essence of the right to assembly.
The bill proposes the summary expulsion of migrants caught entering the country's North African enclaves illegally and hefty fines for protests outside parliament buildings and strategic installations.
The experts echoed criticism by Spanish opposition parties and rights groups that the bill is an attempt by the conservative government to muzzle protests over its handling of the economic crisis.
Maina Kiai, U.N. special expert on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, said the reform "unnecessarily and disproportionately restricts basic freedoms such as the collective exercise of the right to freedom of opinion."
In reference to the North African enclaves, the statement said the reform could pave the way for on-the-spot deportation of people at risk of torture, contrary to international human rights.
The group said the ambiguity of the Penal Code reform could have "a chilling effect" on the freedom of peaceful assembly.
The bill introduces the possibility of life imprisonment for terrorism crimes and creates new offenses covering militants known to have traveled to fight for Islamic groups or who use Internet sites aimed at recruiting such activists.
The experts considered that the definition of terrorist offenses and provisions relating to incitement or justification of terrorism were too vague.
The bills are before the Senate for debate and possible amendment over the coming two months. The governing conservative Popular Party's majority in the house means they are unlikely to be rejected.