Anything goes in the name of “National Security”?
The Spanish government has finally approved the reform of the National Security Law, but the great power granted to the public authorities to deal with very ill-defined crisis situations raises serious concerns about how it could affect our fundamental rights. Miriam Frias, financial assistant at 11Onze, analyses the news.
Officially, the National Security Law of 2015 aims to ensure that the State can have the strategic resources necessary to deal with crisis situations, risks and threats that affect national security. The new text does not affect the essential content of the law, even so, it centralises more competences and specifies some actions to be carried out in crisis situations to guarantee that in such scenarios the country will have the basic resources.
The concept is nothing new, and both Spain and other countries have laws designed to guarantee critical resources, urging business and state collaboration, during a context of extreme crisis, as we suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic. Even so, and as Miriam Frias explains, “modifications have been made that have not reached the public and are still an unknown quantity“.
The balance between rights and duties
The ambiguity and lack of specificity of the text allow for an overly broad legal interpretation that generates mistrust among the population. “It is an ace up the government’s sleeve that it can use when it deems necessary,” says Frias. This means that the state “could force any person of legal age to perform personal services and to comply with orders given by the authorities”.
The reform of the law has also set off alarm bells among businesses concerned that the state could seize their assets, stop their activity or even occupy them temporarily. As Frias explains, “businesses and legal entities would also have to provide personal or material services. The state would have the right to confiscate, requisition or expropriate all kinds of assets”.
After the experience of the abuse and scope in the application of article 155, it is worrying, to say the least, that a national security law, which a priori has to be more effective and quicker in its application than this article of the Constitution, does not guarantee that there will be no abuse of authority by representatives of the executive branch of the state. “We hope that these situations and examples will never materialise, but it is important to be aware of them, because nothing is impossible,” Frias concludes.
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