IACHR CONCERNED ABOUT SITUATION OF GUILLERMO FARIÑAS IN CUBA
Washington, D.C., March 19, 2010 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep concern over the situation of Guillermo Fariñas, a journalist and human rights defender who has been on a hunger strike in Cuba since February 24, 2010. According to the information the Commission has received, Guillermo Fariñas began a hunger strike the day following the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died of starvation after a lengthy hunger strike in prison.
The Inter-American Commission sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba on March 12, 2010, requesting that it provide information about Mr. Fariña's situation within a period of five days. However, that time limit has expired, and the Commission has received no reply.
Mr. Fariñas embarked on a hunger strike to demand the release of 26 political prisoners who have serious health problems. The Inter-American Commission has asked the State of Cuba on numerous occasions to release, immediately and unconditionally, the victims in IACHR Case No. 12.476, political dissidents who have been deprived of their liberty since 2003. The IACHR also recommended to Cuba that it overturn the convictions against these persons, inasmuch as they were based on laws that impose unlawful restrictions on their human rights.
The IACHR once again urges the State of Cuba to order the immediate and unconditional release of all the victims in Case 12.476, overturn their convictions, and adapt its legal procedures to applicable international standards for due process, so that those who go before the courts for a determination of their rights and responsibilities can count on the minimum legal guarantees to be able to exercise their defense.
The Commission also reiterates that restrictions to political rights and to freedom of expression and the dissemination of thought, the lack of elections, and the lack of independence of the judiciary create a permanent situation in Cuba in which the fundamental rights of its citizens are violated. The Commission urges the State to carry out the reforms that are necessary in accordance with its international human rights obligations.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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