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Spain has detailed counterterrorism provisions in its Criminal Code. The breadth of the definition of glorifying terrorism in the criminal law has been widely critized for infringing on the right to freedom of speech. The Constitution stipulates that terrorism shall not be regarded as a political offence.

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

Spain defines a terrorist act in its Criminal Code as follows:

The commission of any serious criminal offence against the life or physical integrity, liberty, moral integrity, sexual freedom and indemnity, the heritage, natural resources or the environment, public health, of catastrophic risk, arson, against the Crown, of attack with a weapon or the holding, trafficking and depositing of weapons, ammunition or explosives, foreseen in this Code, and the seizure of aircraft, ships or other means of collective transport of persons or goods, shall be deemed criminal offences of terrorism if they are carried out for any of the following purposes:

1. Subverting the constitutional order, or suppressing or seriously upsetting the functioning of the political institutions or the State’s social or economic structures or of obliging the public authorities to carry out a deed or to abstain therefrom,

2. Gravely altering the public peace;

3. Seriously upsetting the functioning of an international organisation;

4. Provoking a state of terror amongst the population or part thereof.Art. 573(1), Criminal Code of Spain.

The breadth of the provisions on the glorification of terrorism in Article 578 of the Criminal Code has been criticized by several experts. Amnesty International has stated that the counterterror law has been used "to crush satire and creative expression online". 

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


Spain is a State Party to all of the main United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention State Party


Spain is also a State Party to most of the main regional treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Regional Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1977 European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism State Party
2003 Protocol amending the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism State Party
2005 Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism State Party
2015 Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism Signatory

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

The Criminal Code stipulates the following penalties for terrorist offences:

1. Sentence of imprisonment of the maximum duration foreseen in this Code if the death of an individual ensues;

2. Sentence of imprisonment from twenty years to twenty-five years if, in cases of kidnapping or unlawful detention, the whereabouts of an individual are not provided;

3. Sentence of imprisonment from fifteen to twenty years if an abortion as defined in Article 144 follows or if the bodily harm defined in Articles 149, 150, 157, or 158 ensues or the kidnapping of an individual or the widespread damage or fire as foreseen in Articles 346 and 351, respectively, ensue.

4. Sentence of imprisonment from ten to fifteen years if any other bodily damage is caused or if an individual is unlawfully detained or is threatened or coerced.Art. 573 bis (1), Criminal Code of Spain.

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

Spain has a dedicated counterterrorism unit in its national police. The Grupo Especial de Operaciones is the tactical unit of the National Police Corps.


Criminal Code of Spain (English version)

Constitution of Spain