Within hours of the deadline for Catalan rapper Pablo Hasél to go to prison on charges of glorification of terrorism, Amnesty International has issued a statement (in Spanish) calling the penalty “unfair and disproportionate.” Amnesty has also started collecting signatures to demand a reform of the Spanish penal code, as it considers that some of its articles violate the right to freedom of expression. Amnesty calls for the law to conform to international human rights standards and to penalize only those expressions that directly incite violence.
Esteban Beltrán, director of the Spanish branch of Amnesty International, recalls that Hasél “is not the only one who suffers the consequences of unjust laws: many other artists, journalists or activists have received numerous fines or long periods of exclusion from public office”. Specifically, the human rights NGO denounces that Spain has condemned 75 people for exalting terrorism since 2016. It considers that this reality promotes “self-censorship for fear of repression.”
“No one should be prosecuted just for expressing themselves on social media or for singing anything that might be unpleasant or outrageous. Expressions that do not clearly and directly incite violence cannot be penalized. If these articles are not modified, freedom of expression will continue to be silenced and artistic manifestations will be curtailed” says Beltrán.
Artist C. Tangana has joined the Amnesty campaign with a video calling for everyone’s involvement. “You don’t have to listen to his music or agree with his lyrics to realize that putting him in prison is crazy” he says.