Spain: Duo fined for setting fire to royal photo awarded €14,000 after human rights breach

Human rights judges have awarded more than €14,000 to two Spaniards, who were fined for setting fire to a photo of the country’s royal couple.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Stern Taulats and Roura Capellera v. Spain (application no. 51168/15) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held that the finding of a violation was sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicants, Enric Stern Taulats and Jaume Roura Capellera.

It also held that Spain was to pay each of the applicants 2,700 euros (EUR) in respect of pecuniary damage and EUR 9,000, to the applicants jointly, in respect of costs and expenses.

The court found in particular that the act allegedly committed by the applicants had been part of a political, rather than personal, critique of the institution of monarchy in general, and in particular of the Kingdom of Spain as a nation.

It also noted that it was one of those provocative “events” which were increasingly being “staged” to attract media attention and which went no further than the use of a certain permissible degree of provocation in order to transmit a critical message in the framework of freedom of expression.

Moreover, the court observed that the act in question had not constituted incitement to hatred or violence. Lastly, it held that the prison sentence served on the applicants had been neither proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued (protection of the reputation or rights of others) nor necessary in a democratic society.


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