On 4 December 2017, the National Court convicted twelve rappers, part of a collective called La Insurgencia, under Article 578 and sentenced each of them to two years and a day in prison, as well as nine years’ disqualification from the public sector and a 4,800 Euro fine. The rappers’ appeal against the verdict was pending at the time of writing. Nyto Rukeli, 23-years old, who joined the collective in 2015, told Amnesty International in October 2017 that the purpose of the collective was “to provide a platform for musicians to speak out about political issues”.
In October 2016, law enforcement officials launched a coordinated operation in several locations to arrest all 12 rappers of La Insurgencia. Two police officers arrested Nyto in Santiago de Compostela, where he was living at the time. The prosecutor charged them with “glorifying terrorism” on the basis of their song lyrics, including the following line in Nyto’s song “Subversive Rhymes”: “We must fight decisively, only the ideological line of the Communist Party-Reconstituted will save us.”
The National Court ruled that the 12 rappers glorified the armed group GRAPO, which the authorities argued is tied to the PCE-r, and several of its members, and, in addition, had the potential to encourage people to commit terrorism-related offences. In addition to the prison sentence, Nyto fears that being sentenced to nine years’ disqualification from the public sector will significantly limit his ability to find employment in his chosen profession, care of the elderly.
Nyto told Amnesty International that even before their convictions, the prosecution of the collective had already had a negative impact on its members. “Many got scared. The authorities succeeded as about half the members have stopped singing or have changed the messages in their songs.”