Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has today filed a criminal complaint against four leaders of the Spanish ultra right-wing political party “VOX”, pursuant to Article 510 of the Spanish Penal Code which deals with offences of incitement to hatred.
In the complaint, the Government brings to the attention of the Spanish prosecutors a long list of statements emanating from “VOX” and its said leaders which reveal a clear strategy of disparaging the Gibraltarians and our institutions in a manner which seems clearly designed to create an atmosphere of hatred among Spaniards towards Gibraltarians. Only recently, the leader of “VOX” in La Linea resigned accusing the national party leadership of fomenting hatred against Gibraltar.
In recent days, some of the online comments provoked by statements made by “VOX” and its national leaders have specifically urged violent action against Gibraltar.
As in most other countries in Europe and the civilised world, the law of Spain punishes hate crimes. Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar is mindful of a long and dark history in Europe where minorities have been targeted by extremist political ideologues. The outcomes of some of those campaigns of hatred are an indelible blot on European history and the Government will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the promulgators of anti-Gibraltarian hate are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
In addition, the Government has asked the Spanish prosecutors to investigate the online group, “Gibraltar: Español”, a social media group which regularly disseminates unjustified allegations against Gibraltar and which has recently been an avid echo-chamber for the anti-Gibraltarian propaganda of VOX. These matters will also be raised directly with the social media platforms that host the puerile content of this group.
The Chief Minister of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: “Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar is deeply committed to the principle of freedom of expression, but we will not accept that this fundamental freedom should be abused by those who mean to cause us harm by inciting hatred against the people of Gibraltar. There is an important dividing line between the right to speak one’s mind, however much we may disagree with the views expressed, and the incitement to hatred, libel, slander or defamation. We will not allow anyone to cross that line unchallenged and we will take every recourse available to us all and each of us, in every tribunal available to us, in order to counter those attempts we perceive to incite such hatred. History has seen these moments pass before without those who have raised the temperature in this way remaining unchallenged. That won’t happen on my watch and whilst my Cabinet colleagues and I are responsible for the discharge of our affairs!”