Spain: Jailing of rapper for song lyrics and tweets "unjust and disproportionate"

Ahead of the expiry of the 8pm deadline for the Spanish rapper, Pablo Hasél, to turn himself in to police and begin a prison term for his song lyrics and tweets, Esteban Beltrán, Director of Amnesty International Spain, said

"No one should face criminal prosecution only for expressing themselves on social media or for singing something that may be distasteful or shocking. Expressions that do not clearly and directly incite violence cannot be criminalised.

No one should face criminal prosecution only for expressing themselves on social media or for singing something that may be distasteful or shocking
Esteban Beltrán, Director of Amnesty International Spain

"Pablo Hasél's imprisonment is an excessive and disproportionate restriction on his freedom of expression, but he is not alone in suffering the consequences of unjust laws: many other artists, journalists or activists have received heavy fines or long periods of exclusion from the public sector. And an intangible but sad consequence for our society: self-censorship for fear of repression.

“If these articles of the Criminal Code are not amended, freedom of expression will continue to be silenced and artistic expression will continue to be restricted.”

Pablo Hasél's imprisonment is an excessive and disproportionate restriction on his freedom of expression, but he is not alone in suffering the consequences of unjust laws
Amnesty International Spain

Pablo Hasél indicated this morning that he has no intention of handing himself in, tweeting “Tendrán que venir a secuestrarme” (“they will have to kidnap me.”)

Background

Pablo Hasél was convicted to nine months' imprisonment and six years' disqualification from employment in the public sector for the offence of glorifying terrorism.

He has also been convicted of insulting the Crown and insulting state institutions. In total, he will face a fine of almost 30,000 euros. His case is included in the Amnesty International 2018 report, Tweet if you dare

Amnesty International has launched a cyber-action calling on the Ministry of Justice to ensure that, in the future reform of the Criminal Code, these offences are eliminated and that none of its provisions unduly criminalise artistic expression or creation protected by the right to freedom of expression. Although the government has announced a possible reform of the Criminal Code, and pending further details, Amnesty International reiterates that such a reform should aim to align with international human rights standards, so that only direct incitement to violence is criminalized.