UN condemns jail for Monaco royal critics

2nd April 2015, Comments 0 comments

Punishments handed out in Monaco for insulting the royal family are too severe, the UN's human rights watchdog said Thursday, with those caught voicing criticism risking years in jail.

"The committee expresses its concern that public offence of the royal family remains a crime punishable by up to five years in prison," the Human Rights Committee said in a statement.

Imprisoning a person at all for exercising his right to free speech is a violation of human rights, and punishments should not be increased "based on the identity of the person targeted," it said.

Although the UN noted that the offence -- known as 'lese-majeste' or 'injured monarch' -- was usually only met with a fine, there have been several cases of the outspoken being locked up.

The committee's report highlighted in particular "the disproportionate punishment" meted out to a Tunisian in September -- which went far beyond even the prosecution's request.

The unnamed 28-year old had got into a row in a public place when he furiously insulted the royal family, and although prosecutors had requested he spend eight days in jail and pay a 1,000 euro ($1,081) fine, he was given three months behind bars instead.

© 2015 AFP

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