SAN JUAN — The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the police chief and the justice secretary, saying the island's new penal code violates the constitutional right to freedom of expression.
The lawsuit came a week after Gov. Luis Fortuno approved the new code that restricts certain types of protests and establishes a three-year prison sentence for violators.
“The statute is evidently intended to suppress speech, to stop people from protesting against government policies,” William Ramirez, local ACLU director, said.
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction to stop Justice Secretary Guillermo Somoza from enforcing the new law as it relates to protests and demonstrations. A section states that those who disrupt, interrupt or prevent legislators from performing public duties or cause disorder while in the immediate view and presence of lawmakers will be charged.
The American Civil Liberties Union says the new code uses vague language and does not offer police or potential offenders any guidance about what kind of conduct would be considered criminal.
The spokespersons for the police chief and the justice secretary did not immediately return messages for comment. Fortuno spokesman Edward Zayas said he would soon comment. Fortuno has previously denied that the code would infringe on the rights of protesters.