NGO Coalition Calls Attention to 'Spain’s Free Expression Violations'

Human Wrongs Watch

By Siobhan Hagan*, Vienna 20 October 2014 — The International Press Institute (IPI) has joined with eight other press freedom organizations to submit a Initiates file downloadletter to the U.N. Human Rights Committee listing concerns to be considered during Spain’s sixth country review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). 

Demonstration in Madrid | Author: Olmo Calvo | Wikipedia Commons

Demonstration in Madrid | Author: Olmo Calvo | Wikipedia Commons

The review process is generally conducted every four years, when members of the U.N. Human Rights Committee analyse state parties’ implementation of the International Covenant.

Other partners to IPI’s submission include Access Info Europe in Madrid, Reporters Without Borders International, Reporters Without Borders Spain, AMARC Europe, Free Expression Associates, the European Federation of Journalists, Article 19 and WAN-IFRA.

The joint submission (available in Initiates file downloadEnglish and Initiates file downloadSpanish) emphasises concerns in three areas: defamation, regulation of the audiovisual sector and access to information.

Spanish law currently allows the prosecution of defamation as a criminal offence that can result in imprisonment, and the submission notes that this falls short of international standards on freedom of expression. Furthermore, the submission points out, the regulation of civil liability fails to offer clear defences, including truth, good faith and honest opinion.

The joint submission also highlights the fact that Spain lacks a dedicated independent regulatory body for the broadcast media and that most responsibilities in this area have been attributed to a national “super-regulator”, covering various additional sectors, whose members are appointed directly by the government, with no consultation from Parliament.

Finally, the submission raises concerns about Spain’s failure to recognise the right to access information, in clear breach of U.N. Human Rights Committee’s recommendations.

In view of these concerns, the NGO coalition stated in closing its letter: “The undersigned believe both that Spain is currently in breach of its obligations under the ICCPR to ensure that the domestic legal framework guarantees the rights set out in the Covenant, and that the Law on Transparency, Access to Information, and Good Governance should be strengthened.”

*Siobhan Hagan, IPI Contributor. Source:  International Press Institute (IPI). Go to Original.

2014 Human Wrongs Watch

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