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Amnesty accuses the government of using anti-terrorism laws to restrict freedom of expression

The NGO seeks to repeal the article of the Penal Code that punishes the enalticimiento of terrorism and humiliation of victims

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Amnesty accuses the government of using anti-terrorism laws to restrict freedom of expression
En Español
  • Amnesty report slams Spanish government for restricted freedom of expression

Amnesty International (AI) is clear: "Freedom of expression is being attacked in Spain." The NGO reaches this conclusion in a new monographic report elaborated after dozens of sentences and open judicial proceedings of course "enhancement of terrorism" in social networks. "The government is harassing a whole series of expressions on Internet — from politically controversial lyrics to simple jokes — using general categories envisaged in anti-terrorism laws of imprecise wording of country" , stresses organization, which frames this attitude within a whole battery of rights constraints that plagues Europe today.

More information
  • Signs of intolerance grow in Spain
  • Amnesty describes abuse in enhancement's accusation of terrorism

"states are restricting various forms of expression, including expression on Internet, under pretext of national security," Amnesty International continues, just three weeks after Supreme Court sentenced three and a half years ' imprisonment to Rapper Valtònyc. A sentence that coincided, in addition, with kidnapping of book Fariña, by journalist Nacho Carretero, and withdrawal of work of art political prisoners in contemporary Spain, of Santiago Sierra, at Arco Fair.

The NGO describes in its new report how Spain "abusively" resorted to provisions intended for fight against terrorism to "criminalize" a wide range of statements poured into social networks. In particular, amnesty charges against article 578 of Penal code, which provides for sentences of up to three years ' imprisonment for those who exalt terrorism or humiliate victims. "The authorities are using this article to suppress political expressions, especially in social networks, and artistic community of country," notes document, which accuses state of "penalizing" such legitimate expressions and disobeying International human rights standards. "The impact of 578 is devastating to people: from hefty fines to long periods of exclusion from public sector, through prison sentences," he adds, before asking for abrogation of this precept.

The cases that demonstrate this sis are numerous, as emphasizes AI: accusations against puppeteers, prosecution of musician César Strawberry or condemnation to Cassandra Vera in national hearing subsequently acquitted by supreme. "These cases reflect a growing and dangerous intolerance to any expression, including art, that may be considered provocative, disturbing, or even offensive. But shocking people by saying or tweeting or singing offensive things is not a crime. Applying criminal law to se expressions not only stigmatizes, but serious consequences that can lead are worrisomely disproportionate, " NGO insists.

The report charges against spider operations driven by security forces between 2014 and 2016. Four coordinated police actions involving arrest of more than 70 suspects of "enhancement of terrorism" and "humiliation of victims" in social networks. Among detainees was Arkaitz lump, a 31-year-old Basque lawyer living in Barcelona, who was finally acquitted by national court. "In my case, y got nothing. But ir target is not 60 people prosecuted after spider operations. What y want is for people to think twice before expressing ir opinion on network, especially most critical people, "denounces lawyer. "Your case shows how narrow limits of acceptable expression on Internet have become in Spain," adds Amnesty International.

According to data collected by Amnesty, article 578 has left 66 convicts in last two years: 35 in 2016 and 31 in 2017. A figure higher than that recorded throughout previous five years: 53. This rise translates into "self-censorship for fear of repression"; A "reduction in public debate; And, coupled with gag act, "a long-term threat to strength of civil society and ability to guarantee not only right to freedom of expression, but defense of a whole series of fundamental human rights."

"Under guise of national security, authorities are silencing artists"

"Too many people have been here in recent years just to express ir opinions," Esteban Beltrán, director of Amnesty International Spain, was torn off on Tuesday, next to national court's door, where he presented report. "Under guise of national security, authorities are silencing artists, journalists and social media users," continued NGO representative, who has qualified 578 as an article "vague and ambiguous", which "is applied capriciously".

Along with Beltran, Cassandra Vera and rapper Nyto Sewing Machine Rukeli, from Colectivo La insurgency, who was sentenced to two years and a day in prison, also appeared on Tuesday. "We are waiting for supreme to be pronounced, but we believe that we will be punished," said musician, who has attributed framed this sentence in a context of "repression" of state. "We must finish with 578. The freedom of expression is almost death wound in Spain, "he has apostilled Vera.


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