Spanish Government Wants to Ban Recording Police ‘in action’

Is this a ploy to cover up Police brutality?


The Spanish Director General of Police, Ignacio Cosidó said today that coming changes to the Public Safety Act will prohibit the collection and dissemination of images of police on the internet if those pictures show them doing their job, because these images could endanger their physical integrity and their work.

Cosidó stated his idea in a meeting with the Independent Trade Union of Civil Servants (CSI-F), the Spanish Confederation of Police (CEP) and the European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CESI). The meeting intended to analyze the consequences of the crisis on the labor performed by security forces.

Mr. Cosidó said that the reform of the Public Safety Act, now being studied by the Interior Ministry, seeks to “find a balance between protecting the rights of citizens and those of the security forces.”

The Director General of Police believes that by banning the publication of images that show police action in public places will help protect them and their work. That is why he has suggested changes to the existing law. His proposal will make it illegal to “record, reproduce and process images, sounds or information of members of the security forces in the exercise of their functions as this may endanger their lives or risk the operation they are developing.”

Mr. Cosidó’s initiative refers the public back to times when governments banned recording police action in order to cover up their abuses and crimes against the citizenry. Today, recording police actions in public places does not prevent some of them from using a badge and a gun to take the law into their hands as supposed to serve the people. One needs to ask how much further will they go if assured that no one is documenting their abuses.

The latest example of what police are willing to do to impose their ‘rule’ was seen during the public protests on the streets of Madrid, where people were beaten and temporarily kidnapped by policemen for things such as directing a question to the ‘officers’, or calling on Congress to stop the deadly round of austerity measures.

Cosidó is worried about the safety of the policemen and their privacy but says nothing about protecting the people from police abuses. The move is, he says, an attempt to ensure that the agents and their families are protected and their privacy respected. Mr. Cosidó is probably not aware that under common law, there is no expectation of privacy in public places.

The same criterion that governments and police use to snoop on the people while they walk or drive through public settings is the one that enables the press and the people to record police action on the street or a park, for example. Cosidó says his proposal is “a step forward” to provide more security for police to work ” from the legality and the strict enforcement of the rule of law. ” Where does he place the security of the people, given all the documented abuse that his officers have perpetrated lately?

“Only the recognition of the immense work done by the security forces can help us progress in the achievement of a more just, secure and peaceful society,” stressed the head of the police, who announced last week that the Public Safety Act could also ban covering the face or the head while protesting. So, what Cosidó really wants is to monopolize accountability, privacy and anonymity in the hands of the government and police. Police can use brutality, wear Darth Vader outfits to protect their faces and on top of this, they cannot be recorded while beating up protesters because it would endanger their lives.

Cosidó also praised changes proposed on a bill to amend the Penal Code, which, in his opinion, will be the base to “prevent and prosecution conduct that seriously undermines the public order.” Although these changes may seem harmless to some, the proposals on the table regarding public order and police action are two important steps towards giving police the green light to become even less accountable to the people and to ban public protesting once and for all.

Similar measures already adopted in the United States, makes it a crime for a public protester to protect himself against police abuse. A person’s denial to put his hands behind his back is now qualified as assault on a police officer which enables that officer to use lethal force if necessary. Under the changes suggested by Cosidó, the understanding of ‘crime’ and ‘assault’ will vary to include all cases of resistance, and denial from the part of a citizen to comply as assault, use of violence or serious threats of violence against an agent. The action of passive resistance, with disobedience, remains punishable by six months to a year in jail.

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