The next reform of the crime of embezzlement, based on an amendment of Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) which will surely be known this Friday, will foreseeably reverse the modification that the PP undertook in 2015, while in government and with the rejection of all parliamentary groups, precisely to prevent or limit the Catalan independence consultations, after which the ‘Government’ promoted by Artur Mas on 9-N, in 2014.
ERC proposes to reform embezzlement by focusing on the personal profit, thus recovering the modality existing before the modification of the Organic Law 1/2015 of March 30with which the Popular Party carried out the biggest reform of the Penal Code throughout its existence, since 1995. A reform that the Government of Mariano Rajoy He did it alone, using his absolute majority, and that he did not garner a single vote in Parliament except his own.
The PP reform introduced a new criminalization of embezzlement as a alleged unfair administration of public funds (articles 432 and following), without distinguishing when there is personal enrichment and when there is not. Until then, embezzlement required that the diverted public money be for personal profit or that of third parties.
The independence leaders oriol junqueras, Raul Romeva, Dolors Basa Y Jordi Turull They were convicted of sedition in a media contest with a crime of embezzlement when Article 432 of the Penal Code was applied in their case for having used public funds to promote an illegal referendum, but without personally profiting from that money. And along these lines is the reform that the Government is willing to face, to distinguish with lower penalties public officials who have not profited directly from the diversion of funds from those who have enriched themselves with corruption.
The brand of the PP in the current Penal Code
Apart from the modification of the crime of embezzlement, the traces of the Rajoy Government in the Criminal Code are still valid in some 250 articles, from the reviewable permanent imprisonment for the most serious crimes (article 140), endorsed by the Constitutional Court, going through the increase in penalties for theft, robbery and fraud, to the new definitions of attack and disturbance of public order.
In these last crimes, collected in articles 550, 551, 554, 556, 557, 557 bis, 557 ter, 559 and 561, the Popular Party has embodied its conservative imprint, with more serious penalties for public disorder when it occurs in the context of the demonstrations.
Amnesty International warned in 2015 that this reform of the Penal Code could lead to the penal sanction of the pacific resistance to the authority, such as a sit-down; or also the occupation of offices, offices, establishments or premises, even if they are open to the public, if the normal functioning of the activity is disturbed.
This is the specific case of eight activists from the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) who have just been tried for crimes of gross disobedience and trespassing of premises open to the publicfor which the Prosecutor’s Office requests ten months in prison and a fine of 600 euros, for what was actually a peaceful protest inside a bank branch that promoted the eviction of a mother and her two children.
Setback in the right to demonstrate
Since the reform of the Penal Code in 2015 and the parallel approval of the Citizen Security Lawbetter known as the ‘gag law’, Amnesty International and other organizations have documented a “serious setback” in the exercise of the right to protest.
This is so because the penal reform of the PP added an aggravated type that penalizes with a greater penalty, from one to six years in prison, public disorder when these acts are carried out in a large demonstration or meeting. “The mere fact that the behavior occurs in the context of meetings or demonstrations can cause a sanction, without in any case explaining or clarifying what the risks or dangers are, or the legal right to be protected,” it is stated in the report on the “jaws” that restrict the use of right to protest of Amnesty International, for which “mere attendance at a meeting or demonstration should not entail an aggravation of the sentence, since it is the exercise of human rights”.
precisely the aggravated form of public disorder when these are carried out in a large demonstration or meeting, the days could be numbered since their elimination is part of the PSOE and United We Can bill to modify the crime of sedition. With the official name of Proposal for an Organic Law for the Transposition of European Directives and other provisions for the adaptation of criminal legislation to the European Union, and reform of the crimes against moral integrity, public disorder and dual-use weapons smugglingthe Government proposes a series of reforms in the Penal Code.
Freedom of expression and information, affected
Among other things, you want to remove the penal sanction to the diffusion of messages that serve to reinforce the willingness to commit public disorder, something that the 2015 reform incorporated into article 559, “and whose vagueness, as the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe pointed out, could lead to sanction statements and opinions expressed before the public disorders”, indicates Amnesty International, which emphasizes that this sanction may constitute “a disproportionate and unnecessary limitation of the right to freedom of expression and information“.
Specifically, article 559 punishes “the distribution or public dissemination, through any means, of messages or slogans that incite the commission of any of the crimes of disturbance of public order in article 557 bis of the Penal Code, or that serve to to reinforce the decision to carry them out, will be punished with a fine from three to twelve months or imprisonment from three months to one year”.
Rapper Hásel and public disorder
Rapper Pablo Hásel faces a prison sentence five years and nine months in prison for allegedly having caused public disorder in the protest in front of the sub-delegation of the government of Lleida against the arrest in Germany of the former president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont, in March 2018. A couple of weeks ago he sat down again in the defendant’s dock, after almost two years in prison serving a nine-month prison sentence for glorification of terrorismto which new convictions have been added.
The Prosecutor’s Office requests for Hásel and ten other people sentences ranging from three to five years and nine monthsaccused of public disorder, attacking law enforcement officers and injuring several officers during a day of protests in support of Puigdemont.
Increase in crimes against public order
The State Attorney General’s Office (FGE) It has verified that the crimes of attack and resistance continue to increase, within the criminal offense against public order. In relation to the crime of attack against authority, the General Prosecutor’s Office affirms in its latest report that the number of procedures has increased, since from the 15,992 procedures initiated in the year 2020 there were a total of 18,512 in the year 2021 , which represents an increase of 15.75%.
The report of the FGE also points out that the crimes of public disorder have experienced an increase of 48% from 2020 to 2021. In 2020, a total of 10,617 sentences were handed down for this crime, while in 2021 there were 14,360, which represents an increase of 35%.