Wednesday, March 14, 2018

So much for lese majeste in Spain

In 2007, two Catalans set fire to a life-sized portrait of Spain's monarch to protest a royal visit to their town. For this, they were charged with "insulting the monarchy" and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment - though this was later reduced to a 2,700 Euro fine. But the European Court of Human Rights has just ruled that they should never have been prosecuted:

The European Court of Human Rights said on Tuesday that Spain had wrongfully condemned two Catalans for publicly burning a photograph of the king and queen, saying that the act was justifiable political criticism.

In their unanimous ruling, the judges said they were “not convinced” that the burning “could reasonably be construed as incitement to hatred or violence.”


In its ruling, the court said that the photo burning “had not been a personal attack on the king of Spain geared to insulting and vilifying his person, but a denunciation of what the king represented as the head and the symbol of the state apparatus and the forces which, according to the applicants, had occupied Catalonia.”

And just like that, Spain's archaic lese majeste law is dust. Spanish courts are bound to obey the ECHR, and its effectively just ruled out any prosecution for political criticism. Hopefully this will lead to a review of the cases of those currently jailed (including rapper Valtonyc) and compensation for the victims of this unjust law.