The ECtHR condemns Spain for imposing a prison sentence on two Catalan citizens who burned a photograph of the King during one of H.M.’s visits to Catalonia in 2007.

Stern Taulats and Roura Capellera v. Spain (claim no. 51168/15 and 51186/15). Spain was condemned for having violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of expression) by considering that the penalty imposed by the domestic courts on the plaintiffs for having burned a photograph of the King and Queen was neither proportionate nor necessary in a democratic society.
The case refers to the criminal conviction of two Spanish citizens for having set fire to a photograph of the King and Queen of Spain during a rally in a public place on the occasion of the King’s institutional visit to Gerona in September 2007.
The Court declares in particular that the act reproached to the plaintiffs falls within the framework of political and not personal criticism of the institution of the monarchy in general and in particular of the Kingdom of Spain as a nation. It also emphasizes that it was a provocative staging, one of those used more and more to attract the attention of the media and that it is nothing more than a recourse to a certain dose of provocation allowed for the transmission of a critical message under the angle of freedom of expression. On the other hand, the Court notes that the act in question was not an incitement to hatred or violence. Finally, it considers that the prison sentence imposed on the plaintiffs was not proportionate to the purpose pursued (the protection of the reputation or rights of third parties), nor was it necessary in a democratic society.
Access to the judgment through the TEDU Portal https://www.echr.coe.int
AFFAIRE STERN TAULATS ET ROURA CAPELLERA
c. ESPAGNE (Requêtes nos 51168/15 et 51186/15) ARRÊT
STRASBOURG 13 mars 2018

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