Monday, June 1, 2015

Spanish Supreme Court expands freedom of speech in the military

The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that freedom of speech protects military personnel who express public criticism against the armed forces. According to the court, criticism carried out with moderation cannot be treated as an attack on the discipline or internal cohesion of the military. The ruling marks a turning point in the rights of soldiers, since it sets strict limits on the military leadership’s ability to punish those who publicly show their disagreement with the way they manage the armed forces.

As described by El Diario, here, the decision was issued in the case of Army Lieutenant and president of the Unified Association of the Spanish Military (AUME, for its name in Spanish), Jorge Bravo. Mr. Bravo had been punished for publicly criticizing military budget cuts and their effects on the employment situation of his peers. He had also condemned expenditures for celebrations and takeovers.

The Unified Association of the Spanish Military has celebrated the court’s decision. The spokesperson for AUME, in response to the ruling, stated that being in the armed forces does not mean that a person loses the condition of citizen. According to the Association, the decision will help change the mentality of leaders who do not understand that soldiers are citizens who want to contribute and compromise through associations with the betterment of the armed forces. More on the statements can be found here.

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