The Spanish government on March 26, ended the freedom of assembly without much fanfare or attention. It had faced major opposition. Almost 80 of Spaniards oppose it. Under this provision, police will have the ability to hand out fines up to $650,000 to unauthorised demonstrators who protest near a transport hub or a nuclear power plant. They are allowed to issue fines of up to $30,000 for taking pictures of police during protest. The law doesn’t technically outlaw protest, but it’s hard to see what difference that makes in practice. Spain is the latest “democracy” to consign freedom of assembly. It is a very pitiable state today as the government’s default response to anything is to implement draconian laws against the public exercise of democracy.
In Quebec, student strikes are a regular thing. These strikes tend to disrupt civil society. When this became very frequent, marches were declared illegal before they even began. In 2012, the Quebec legislature passed Bill 78, which made unauthorised gatherings of over 50 people illegal and punished violations with fines of up to $5,000 for individuals and $125,000 for organizations.
In Turkey, a law was passed which allowed police to search demonstrators and their homes without warrants or even grounds for suspicion, allowing for a much looser definitions for resisting arrest. It also led to harsher punishment for resisting arrest or shouting particular slogans crimes punishable by years in prison.
The list goes on. For instance, France banned Palestine solidarity demonstrations; police in Australia gained the power to protestors from appearing in public spaces for a year; Egypt, Ukraine and Russia’s governments have outlawed protests entirely. All of this happened in 2014.
Police forces were armed with machine guns, specifically to monitor protests and sought to turn resisting arrest into a felony.