ECHR Condem Spain For Denying Freedom of Expression

ECHR CONDEMN SPAIN FOR DENYING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Last month the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg condemned the decision by the Spanish courts to refuse Basque political activist Arnaldo Otegi freedom of expression.

Otegi had claimed the Spanish King “protects torture and imposes his monarchical regime on our people through torture and violence”. Subsequently a Spanish court found him guilty of insulting the King, handing down a one-year jail sentence and imposing costs. His appeal to the Spanish Constitutional Court was refused
so the matter was referred to the ECHR.

The ECHR determined that Otegi was within his rights as a politician to air his grievances against the King.
The Court said Otegi’s remarks were;

“made in his capacity as elected member of and spokesperson for a parliamentary group …in the context of the recent closure of the Egunkaria newspaper and the complaint alleging ill-treatment”,

and they said his views;

“could be understood as contributing to a wider public debate on the possible responsibility of the state security forces in cases of ill treatment”.

The Spanish state was ordered by the Court to pay Otegi €20 000 in compensation and to pay €3 000 for the cost of the proceedings. Spanish security forces have an atrocious human rights record and torture and
extra-judicial killings have been carried out by the State.

Although in recent years Spain has `tried to clean up its act’ as recently as last December four civil guard police officers were found guilty of torturing members of an Eta unit that allegedly placed a bomb at Madrid’s Barajas airport in 2006.

Spain is notoriously sensitive over its human rights record and the government has refused to allow the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture to publish details of its most recent examination of prisons and police stations (see link):

https://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/3572

The full judgement in the Otegi case is available (in French only) at the HUDOC archive here:

https://www.echr.coe.int/echr/en/header/case-law/hudoc/hudoc+database/

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League

04/04/11

The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights
human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.

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