IACHR ANNOUNCES TWO REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN CUBA
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today notified the Government of Cuba and the petitioners of two reports on the merits whose publication was approved at its 126th regular session. They are Reports Nº 67/06 on Case 12.476 (Oscar Elías Biscet et al.) concerning the violation of basic rights to the detriment of 79 political dissidents deprived of their liberty since 2003 and Report Nº 68/06 on Case 12.477 (Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo et al.) concerning the trial of three people and the application of the death penalty in 2003, without due process guarantees. Both reports were approved by a majority vote, with a dissenting vote issued by Commissioner Freddy Gutiérrez.
In response to the IACHR’s request for information to the State of Cuba through the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, the government asserted that the Inter-American Commission lacked the legal jurisdiction, and the OAS the moral standing, to judge the enjoyment of human rights in Cuba. The time frames set forth in the IACHR’s Rules of Procedures were long expired and the State had failed to dispute the facts alleged in the complaints.
Case 12.477 – Violation of the human rights of three executed individuals
Case 12.477 was opened in October 2003 with a petition lodged against the State of Cuba for prosecuting, condemning to death without due process guarantees, and ultimately executing, Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo, Bárbaro Leodán Sevilla García, and Jorge Luis Martínez Isaac. At the trials, which were held April 5 to 8, 2003, they were accused of having hijacked a ferry with 40 people on board on April 2, 2003, with the intention of traveling to the United States. The Commission concluded that the State of Cuba violated Articles I, XVIII, and XXVI of the American Declaration of the Rightsand Duties of Man to the detriment of Copello Castillo, Sevilla García, and Martínez Isaac for trying and convicting them without due process guarantees, and subsequently executing them.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommended that the State of Cuba adopt the necessary measures to bring its laws, procedures and practices in line with international human rights standards. In particular, it recommended a criminal law reform to ensure the right to justice and the right to a regular process and the launching of a reform of its Political Constitution to ensure the independence of the Judiciary. The IACHR also recommended that the State make reparations to the victims’ next of kin for the material and moral harm suffered and adopt the necessary measures to prevent a recurrence of such incidents, in accordance with the duty of the State to respect and ensure human rights.
Case 12.476 – Violation of the fundamental rights of political dissidents
In September and October 2003, two petitions were lodged against the State of Cuba for the violation of the rights of 79dissidents, opposition figures, human rights activists, and independent journalists arrested in March 2003.
The IACHR recommended that the State of Cuba order the immediate and unconditional release of the victims in this case, overturn their convictions for having been based on laws that impose illegitimate restrictions on their human rights, and bring its laws, procedures, and practices in line with international human rights standards. In particular, the Commission recommended that the State of Cuba derogate Law No. 88 and article 91 of the Criminal Code, and that it undertake the reform of its Political Constitution to ensure the independence of the Judiciary and the right to participate in government. The IACHR further recommended that the State make reparations to the victims and their relatives for the material and moral harm suffered as a result of violations of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and adopt the necessary measures to prevent a recurrence of such incidents in accordance with the duty of the State to respect and ensure human rights.
Washington, D.C., November 1, 2006