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Freedom of Peaceful Assembly


International Law and its connection with the national legislation

Spain´s legislation consists, in hierarchical order, of the Constitution, international treaties, primary legislation (Organic Laws, ordinary laws, and regulatory laws, such as Royal Decrees of Law and Legislative Royal Decrees), and secondary legislation (Royal Decrees, Decrees, Ministerial Orders, etc.).  Validly concluded international treaties thus form an essential part of the internal legal order (Article 96, Constitution).
Article 10(1) of the Constitution requires that “the norms  relative to basic rights and liberties which are recognized by the Constitution [...] be interpreted in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international treaties and agreements on those matters ratified by Spain.”   The conclusion of an international treaty that contains provisions contradicting the Constitution requires a prior constitutional revision (Article 95, Constitution). 
Spain is a State Party to the key international treaties pertaining to freedom of assembly, i.e. the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified on April 27, 1977) and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ratified on October 4, 1979).


Legal framework
The 1978 Constitution of Spain in its Article 21 enshrines the right “to assemble peaceably and without arms,” while expressly recognizing that the exercise of this right shall not require prior authorization.  This constitutional provision notably does not restrict the right to Spanish citizens only, thus implying that foreign nationals and stateless persons shall be accorded it as well.
Spain belongs to the states that have opted for enacting specific legislation dealing with public assemblies.  Until the 1978 Constitution came into effect, freedom of assembly was regulated by Law 17/1976 of May 2, 1976. Once the Constitution became effective, however, a new act was drafted with the status of an organic law.  It was adopted on July 15, 1983, as Organic Law 9/1983.  Other key acts of relevance to freedom of assembly are the Organic Law 1/1992 of February 21, 1992, on the Protection of Public Safety, and the Organic Law 4/1997 of August 4, 1997, Regulating the Use of Video Cameras by Security Forces and Units in Public Spaces.



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