The Andorran Criminal Code foresees the following offences:
Slander (Art. 172): Accusing another person of a crime while knowing that the accusation is false or acting with reckless disregard for the truth.
Slander is punished with arrest. If committed publicly, the act is punishable with between three months and three years in prison. The act is exempt from criminal liability if the accusation is proven true (some exceptions apply).
Defamation (Art. 173): Alleging a fact that serious harms another person’s reputation or self-esteem while knowing the fact to be false or acting with reckless disregard for the truth.
Defamation is punished with arrest or up to one year in prison. If directed against authorities or civil servants in relation to the exercise of official duties, the act is punished with up to two years in prison or with arrest in less serious cases. Defamation is exempt from criminal liability if the allegation is proven true.
Insult (Art. 174): Gravely insulting another person, or slightly or gravely insulting an authority or civil servant in relation to the exercise of official duties. The act is punishable with arrest.
Criminal Defamation of Public Officials
The Andorran Criminal Code provides for special dispensation in the form of a higher punishment for defamation (Art. 173) and a more expansive objective scope of insult (Art. 174) committed against public officials in relation to the exercise of official duties.
In addition, regarding procedure, Criminal Code Art. 179 provides that the offended party must file charges before a court, but if the offence is directed against authorities or civil servants regarding facts related to the exercise of their office, a complaint made to the police is sufficient for prosecution.
Criminal Defamation of the Head of State
Slander, defamation or insult against the co-princes (Art. 320): Offending a co-prince through acts or expressions constituting defamation or insult is punishable with three months to three years in prison. Slander under the same circumstances is punishable with up to four years in prison.
Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols
Offences against the prestige of state institutions (Art. 325): Making public allegations that may damage the prestige of the General Council, the government, the Superior Court of Justice, judicial bodies, the public prosecutor’s office or regional administrative bodies, while knowing these allegations to be false or acting with reckless disregard for the truth.
The act is punishable with a fine of 30,000 euros and a ban on holding public office for up to four years, without prejudice to any punishments that may apply for damaging the honour of individuals.
Criminal Defamation of Foreign Heads of State
Slander, defamation and insult against foreign heads of state (Art. 452). Offending a foreign head of state through acts or expressions constituting defamation or insult is punishable with three months to three years in prison. Slander under the same circumstances is punishable with up to four years in prison.
Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols
Criminal Defamation of the Deceased
Art. 339 of the Criminal Code punishes acts or expressions, committed publicly and with intent to insult, that are gravely offensive toward members of, i.a., a religious group.
Criminal Law and Media
According to answers provided by Andorra to the “Draft list of questions for CDMSI members on the implementation of Council of Europe standards related to safety of journalists” of the Council of Europe :
“The Andorran Criminal Code has provisions against defamation/libel although no case has been submitted before the Andorran Tribunals against journalists or other media actors in the history of Andorra.”
Recent Legal Changes
Notes and Acknowledgements
Information for Andorra was originally collected by IPI as part of a study commissioned by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It is reprinted here with the permission of the OSCE. Last update: March 2017.
The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at info(at)ipi.media.