HUMAN RIGHTS DEVELOPMENTS IN THE REGION*
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights continues its practice of including, in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, a chapter on the situation of human rights in member countries of the Organization, based on the competence assigned to it by the OAS Charter, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Commission's Statute and Regulations. This practice has served the purpose of providing the OAS updated information on the human rights situation in those countries that had been the subject of the Commission's special attention; and in some cases, to report on a particular event that had taken place or was emerging or developing at the close of its reporting cycle.
In this chapter, the Commission reiterates its interest in receiving the cooperation of the member states to identify the measures taken by their governments that display a commitment to improving the observance of human rights. Without prejudice to this, the IACHR reflects, in various chapters of this report, the positive advances achieved by many states of the hemisphere in the area of human rights.
The Annual Report of the IACHR for 1997 set forth five criteria pre-established by the Commission to identify the member states of the OAS whose human rights practices merited special attention, and which consequently should be included in its Chapter V. In addition, as anticipated in that Annual Report, the Commission has developed an additional criterion for inclusion in this chapter, which is added to the previous ones.
1. The first criterion encompasses those states ruled by governments that have not come to power through popular elections, by secret, genuine, periodic, and free suffrage, according to internationally accepted standards and principles. The Commission has repeatedly pointed out that representative democracy and its mechanisms are essential for achieving the rule of law and respect for human rights. As for those states that do not observe the political rights enshrined in the American Declaration and the American Convention, the Commission fulfills its duty to inform the other OAS members states as to the human rights situation of the population.
2. The second criterion concerns states where the free exercise of the rights set forth in the American Convention or American Declaration have been, in effect, suspended totally or in part, by virtue of the imposition of exceptional measures, such as state of emergency, state of siege, suspension of guarantees, or exceptional security measures, and the like.
3. The third criterion to justify the inclusion in this chapter of a particular state is when there is clear and convincing evidence that a state commits massive and grave violations of the human rights guaranteed in the American Convention, the American Declaration, and all other applicable human rights instruments. In so doing, the Commission highlights the fundamental rights that cannot be suspended; thus it is especially concerned about violations such as extrajudicial executions, torture, and forced disappearances. Thus, when the Commission receives credible communications denouncing such violations by a particular state which are attested to or corroborated by the reports or findings of other governmental or intergovernmental bodies and/or of respected national and international human rights organizations, the Commission believes that it has a duty to bring such situations to the attention of the Organization and its member states.
4. The fourth criterion concerns those states that are in a process of transition from any of the above three situations.
5. The fifth criterion regards temporary or structural situations that may appear in member states confronted, for various reasons, with situations that seriously affect the enjoyment of fundamental rights enshrined in the American Convention or the American Declaration. This criterion includes, for example: grave situations of violations that prevent the proper application of the rule of law; serious institutional crises; processes of institutional change which have negative consequences for human rights; or grave omissions in the adoption of the provisions necessary for the effective exercise of fundamental rights.
1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights analyzed the general situation of human rights in Cuba during its 102nd regular session, held in Washington, D.C., and approved the draft report, which was transmitted to the Cuban State on March 10, 1999, pursuant to Article 63(h) of its Regulations, and asked that it submit any observations within one month.
2. The Cuban State refrained from submitting observations, and once the term had concluded, on April 13, 1999, the Commission adopted the final report, and decided to publish it in Chapter IV of the Annual Report for 1998.
3. The Commission has continued to observe closely the way in which the human rights situation has evolved in the Republic of Cuba; the purpose of this report is to follow up on the events in that country in this period. Accordingly, the pertinent parts of testimony before the Commission have been incorporated; information provided by several national and international non-governmental human rights organizations, and inter-governmental organizations has also been taken into consideration; and finally, the complaints lodged by petitioners who allege that they are victims of violations of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man have been considered and analyzed.
4. On February 15, 1999, the National Assembly of People's Power, meeting in its first special session of the fifth legislature, approved certain reforms to the Criminal Code. In respect of children's rights, the Criminal Code has included, as new crimes, "the sale and trafficking of minors, as well as other acts contrary to the normal development of the minor." Article 315(1), for example, provides that "one who does not attend to or neglects the education, sustenance, or assistance to a minor under his or her power or guardianship and care shall be subject to three months to one year imprisonment and a fine of 100 to 300 quotas or both." Article 316(1) provides that "one who sells or puts up for adoption a child under 16 years of age, to another person, in exchange for compensation, financial or otherwise, shall be subject to two to five years imprisonment or a fine of 300 to 1,000 quotas or both." Article 316(3) also establishes that "the punishment is seven to 15 years deprivation of liberty when the purpose is to use the minor in any of the forms of international trafficking related to the practice of acts of corruption, pornographic acts, prostitution, trafficking in organs, forced labor, activities linked to drug trafficking or illicit drug consumption." Another novelty of the Criminal Code is the provision at Article 30(11), according to which "the person punished shall not be subject to corporal punishment nor may any measure be used against said person that might be tantamount to humiliation or be to the detriment of his or her dignity."
5. After the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba in January 1998, almost 300 political prisoners were released, the following 13 of whom gained their unconditional release in February 1999: Arturo Betancourt Stephenson, José Angel Carrasco Velar, Juan Carlos Castillo Pasto, Moisés Raúl Cintra Pacheco, Luis Gustavo Domínguez Gutiérrez, Adolfo Durán Figueredo, Pascual Escalona Naranjo, José Antonio Frandín Cribe, Osmel Lugo Gutiérrez, Alexis Maestre Saborit, Nelson Facundo Mujica Pérez, Héctor Palacio Ruiz, and Angel Luis Valiente Laugart.
6. On September 30, 1999, during the 104th regular session of the Commission, testimony was submitted on the general human rights situation in Cuba by the Information Bureau of the Movimiento Cubano de Derechos Humanos. This organization highlighted, among the positive developments in 1999, that "the number of persons imprisoned and tried for political motives has diminished notably and the sentences are generally lower. Whereas in February 1998, when we submitted a prior report to this Illustrious Commission, there were approximately 617 political prisoners in Cuban prisons, at present the figure is almost half as much, at approximately 324, the lowest in the last four decades." The Information Bureau also stated that "different Church publications and religious processions in the streets are being allowed. In addition, in the cultural sector, a certain level of tolerance is maintained: movies, plays, academic conferences, in which criticism is leveled at the bureaucracy and other social ills provoked by the government sector. The activities of dissidents in private homes, such as meetings, seminars, press conferences, etc., are not being repressed as before. And now the limit of tolerance appears to be opposition activity in public places."
7. On November 14 and 15, 1999, during the Ninth Ibero-American Summit, held in Cuba, the heads of government of Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay, as well as the foreign ministers of Nicaragua and Mexico, met separately, freely, and without conditions with a group representing Cuba's internal dissidents: Elizardo Sánchez (Comisión de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional), Oswaldo Payá (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación), Gustavo Arcos Bergnes (Comité Cubano Pro-Derechos Humanos), Raúl Rivero (Cuba Press), and Héctor Palacios (Centro de Estudios Sociales). In a press release issued December 10, 1999, the above-mentioned dissidents stated "that the meetings were a success. We explained Cuba's internal situation and the need to carry out a peaceful transition to democracy, while the visitors, for their part, openly expressed their sympathy and solidarity with our cause. After each meeting, there were spontaneous mini-press conferences between ourselves and representatives of the foreign press. These meetings represent the greatest recognition of the Cuban dissident movement to date, and clearly show that we have the respect of the democratic governments of our region, who know that we dissidents are not what the regime says we are. These meetings, no doubt, represent important moral and political backing by the Ibero-American democracies for Cuba's democratic opposition."
8. Within the framework of the law on minors, the Inter-American Commission was informed that the Cuban State has put in place a system of care for minors with behavioral disorders, that rules out the possibility of bringing criminal prosecutions against Cubans under 16 years of age (Decree-law Nº 64/82). In this context, the National Network of Social Assistance Centers has been created for minors who receive no family support or have been abandoned, which tries to provide, insofar as is possible, living conditions similar to those of a home, and also a National Commission entrusted with prevention and social attention for the purpose of strengthening efforts to prevent criminal behavior. This Decree-Law Nº 64 provides that minors are not to be judged by courts of justice, but rather addressed by the Consejos de Administración de Menores, or Administrative Councils for Minors, made up of multidisciplinary teams of sociologists, physicians, lawyers, psychologists, and teachers, who decide together the appropriate educational measures and therapeutic treatment in each case. This law includes a broad array of measures for re-orienting or re-educating minors that ranges from direct care by the pertinent institutions, with the parents, guardians, or those entrusted with the minor’s care, to institutionalization, which is only done in exceptional and extreme cases. The Decree also sets forth the following guarantees and principles: the presumption of innocence; privacy and respect for physical and mental integrity; the participation of the legal representatives or guardians in all proceedings in which the minor appears; a minimal time for staying at the police units, so they may be placed in appropriate facilities, and always separated from the adults; the actions that are carried out with a minor in the investigation are set forth in the document signed by the legal representatives or guardians, who are given a copy, as a guarantee of that process, and as a record of their participation; the assistance of officers from the Minors Prevention unit in all actions carried out in police units, such officers being professionals responsible for ensuring that both the minor and his or her legal representatives or guardians receive specialized treatment; the institutionalization of minors in re-education centers shall be applied as a last resort, after having recurred to all measures and methods of treatment in the family, school, and community; all measures are imposed by the competent organs and by resolution, as provided for in the legislation; the measures imposed may be challenged at any time. In the area of criminal offenses, the law provides for distinct treatment for persons ages 16 to 20 years, which also extends to other youths under 30 years of age. In this regard, there is a system that incorporates sports, cultural, and recreational activities; schooling is guaranteed up to the secondary education, and incorporation into productive work is ensured, as a means of creating proper behavioral and work habits.
9. The concluding observations of the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination regarding the reports submitted by the states parties pursuant to Article 9 of the International Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, of February 10, 1999, expounded on the positive steps taken in this regard by the Cuban State:
10. During the period covered by this Annual Report, the Commission has observed a worrisome increase in the trends it had highlighted in its latest reports. In effect, after the advances in 1998--which took place during the visit of His Holiness John Paul II to Cuba--which led to an important release of political prisoners and other conditions that had suggested one might anticipate greater public liberties, in 1999 and early 2000 the State has adopted a harsher position against those groups or individuals who seek to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. At the same time, groups of people continue to appear who, discontent with the political system in place, form their own associations within which they analyze possible alternative solutions to the problems currently facing Cuban society, and in some cases they have presented the results of their analyses to the authorities with a view to fostering a dialogue, yet most of the time the State's response is repressive. This attitude is also the cause of the weakness of the groups mentioned, making it difficult for them to increase and strengthen their activities. As one example, suffice it to recall the conviction, in March 1999, of the four members of the Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna (Internal Dissidents' Working Group), Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello, Félix Bonne Carcasés, René Gómez Manzano, and Vladimiro Roca Antúnez, to five and four years imprisonment, respectively, for the crimes of sedition in Case Nº 4 of 1998, for making public a manifesto entitled "La Patria es de Todos" (The Homeland Belongs to All of Us), criticizing the thesis of the Fifth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC). The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, at its 55th session, referred to the detention of these persons noting, inter alia, the following:
11. As regards the conviction of these four dissidents and restrictions on the freedom of expression, assembly, and association in 1999, the organization Human Rights Watch/Americas observed:
12. Amnesty International has also spoken to the situation in Cuba in relation to the aforementioned civil and political rights:
13. In relation to the freedom of press, the Inter-American Press Association, in its quarterly report released on February 2, 2000, noted, inter alia, the following:
14. The organization Reporters Sans Frontières confirms what was pointed out by the Inter-American Press Association in a report submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights during its 55th session, held March 9, 1999:
15. The Commission has referred in prior reports to the systematic practice of the Cuban State of discriminating against citizens subject to its jurisdiction for political reasons and the lack of freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The presentation in the foregoing paragraphs enables the Commission to consider that the practice of the Cuban authorities has not changed, nor have the constitutional and criminal law provisions on which they are based. In other words, there has been persistent harassment, accusations, the adoption of disciplinary measures, official warnings, and penalties involving deprivation of liberty against persons who peacefully displayed their disagreement with government policy. These groups are characterized by their desire to use only peaceful means in expressing their grievances, despite which the authorities consider their activities illegal, and they are persecuted in various forms. The Commission, year after year, has been recommending that the State eradicate from its legislation definitions of criminal conduct that are used precisely to persecute peaceful opponents, such as "enemy propaganda," "contempt for authority," "unlawful association," "clandestine printed matter," "dangerousness," "rebellion," "acts against State security," and the like.
16. The above-noted facts, and especially the March 1999 conviction of the four opposition figures who are members of the Grupo de la Disidencia Interna, led the Government of Canada to suspend the cooperation program in human rights promotion that it had been carrying out in conjunction with the Cuban State in June 1999. This agreement, signed by both states in January 1997, consisted of cooperation between the two countries on human rights issues such as holding seminars, legal reforms, the training of judges, and the sharing of experiences in creating a citizen complaint commission. For its part, the European Union criticized the conviction of these four dissidents by the Cuban State for the peaceful expression of their opposition to the political system in place in Cuba, and, in June 1999, the E.U. Council of Foreign Ministers stated that Cuban domestic and foreign policy had not improved, and reaffirmed their common position that "full cooperation with Cuba will depend upon improvements in human rights and political freedom." The E.U.'s Common Position, originally adopted in 1996, called for "the reform of internal legislation concerning political and civil rights, including the Cuban criminal code, and, consequently, the abolition of all political offences, the release of all political prisoners and the ending of the harassment and punishment of dissidents."8
17. During the period covered by this report, the Commission has received numerous complaints that demonstrate the conditions described in the foregoing paragraphs, i.e. discrimination for political reasons and violations of the freedoms of expression, association, and assembly. Below are some of the more noteworthy complaints:
a. Two recognized leaders of the internal opposition were arrested at dawn on January 25, 2000, in Havana by State Security agents in the continuation of a wave of detentions that began in November 1999, and which has kept dozens of opponents in prison. Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, President of the Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (MCL), a group that belongs to the Christian Democratic Organization of the Americas, affiliated to the Christian Democratic International, and Héctor Palacios Valdés, Director of the Centro de Estudios Sociales, were detained in their homes by agents who arrived with search orders. Palacios's wife, Guisela Delgado, a human rights activist, was also detained. Several hours later these opponents were released. Nonetheless, the Commission was informed that their arrest occurred amidst mounting tensions between the authorities and the opposition that have provoked confrontations in recent weeks. Thus, it was reported that on January 22, 2000, a group of Government partisans headed up by Communist Party leaders broke into the home of Migler Sigler Amaya, in the locality of Pedro Betancourt, province of Matanzas, and beat his family members and several opposition figures who were beginning a fast to support the political prisoners. Also, on January 20, 2000, in an unprecedented occurrence, a group of opposition members went in front of the barracks of the Departamento Técnico de Investigaciones (DTI), located at Cien and Aldabó streets, in Havana, demanding to know the conditions of human rights activists Oscar Elías Biscet and Maritza Lugo, who had been detained there for several weeks. The opposition activists were removed by police agents and threatened with imprisonment. Among those who went to the DTI barracks were Benancio Roberto Rodríguez, of the Movimiento Hermanos Fraternales por la Dignidad; Santiago López, of the Unión Cívica Martiana; Caridad Gonzáles, of the Partido Democrático 30 de Noviembre; and Carlos Alberto Rodríguez, President of the Movimiento Ecologista Naturpaz.
b. Twelve human rights activists and peaceful opponents of the regime have been detained since November 1999. Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet González9, President of the Fundación Lawton de Derechos Humanos, and Migdalia Rosado Hernández, director of the dissident group Tamarindo 34 Derechos Humanos, have been detained since November 3, 1999, facing charges of "outrage to patriotic symbols and public disorder." The case against Rosado and Biscet is before that court as case Nº 18/2000. According to the provisional conclusions of the Office of the Attorney General, "the accused Oscar Elías Biscet González has not performed any socially useful activity since March 1998, when he was subject to labor sanctions when working as a physician at the October 10 Maternal-and-Child Teaching Hospital, for grave breaches of discipline and of the hospital's rules; he is the ringleader of the small counter-revolutionary group Fundación Lawton de Derechos Humanos; he has relations with anti-social elements, former prisoners, and counter-revolutionaries, and maintains ties with small groups made up of individuals of the same sort, he has taken part in several scandals that have played out in public spaces, and provides false and distorted information on our revolutionary process to subversive radio stations located in Miami, United States of America. Accused Migdalia Rosado Hernández, who has been without work since 1994 for appropriating merchandise in the store where she worked, which led to her being subjected to labor sanctions; since that time she became associated with small counter-revolutionary groups, relating only with elements hostile to the revolutionary process; has participated in several public scandals. These facts are constitutive of the offense of public disorder, provided for and sanctioned at Article 201(1)(2) of the Criminal Code. The sanction that must be imposed on the accused Oscar Elías Biscet González is imprisonment for three years and a fine of 500 installments, 10 pesos each; and the accused Migdalia Rosado Hernández, imprisonment for two years and a fine of 300 installments of 5 pesos each, as per Article 37(1)(2) of the Criminal Code." In proceedings held February 25, 2000, Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet was sentenced to three years in prison.
c. The Commission also received information that the above-mentioned persons, along with those named below, remained detained in enclosed cells--with no access to natural or artificial light--at the Departamento Técnico de Investigación of the Criminal Police, situated at Cien and Aldabó streets, municipality of Boyero, Havana: (1) Fermín Scull Zulueta and Eduardo Díaz Fleitas, members of the Movimiento 5 de Agosto de Herradura of the province of Pinar del Río, have been detained since November 10, 1999--case Nº 680/99--for participating peacefully in the march from Dolores park to Butari park on the occasion of the Ibero-American Summit, holding up a banner that read: "We Demand Human Rights" ("Exigimos Derechos Humanos"). These persons are being tried on charges of public disorder; (2) Angel Moya Acosta, Guido Sigler, and Ariel Sigler, members of the Movimiento Opción Alternativa, of the province of Matanzas, have been detained since December 16, 1999, for holding a peaceful demonstration in the locality of Pedro Betancourt on the occasion of the 51st anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, December 10, 1999. According to reports, the opposition was violently repressed during this public demonstration, and these three persons are being tried on charges of instigation to commit crime and public disorder; (3) Since December 17, 1999, Marcel Valenzuela Salt, a member of the organization Hermandad Cívica, who is now on a hunger strike, has been detained, in case Nº 736/99. In view of his critical health conditions, he was taken to the penal ward of the Carlos J. Finlay military hospital, in Marianao, where he currently has a bleeding ulcer, high pressure, and pneumonia; Diosdado González Marrero, President of the Paz, Amor y Libertad party of the province of Matanzas. He was on a hunger strike during the first days of his detention and is currently in delicate condition. It was reported that on December 26, 1999, he was handcuffed at the hands and feet for 14 hours, seated in a chair, for having shouted, from his cell, "Long live human rights!" ("¡Que vivan los derechos humanos!"); Carlos Oquendo Rodríguez and José Aguilar Hernández, members of the Movimiento 13 de Julio. According to information provided to the Commission, Aguilar Hernández was detained by a state security agent who kicked him in the back--behind the lungs--causing a major hematoma. These four individuals are being tried for making a peaceful pilgrimage to the San Lázaro sanctuary chained to one another, wearing t-shirts calling for the release of the political prisoners. After walking two kilometers, state security surrounded them to prevent them from continuing their peaceful demonstration, and they threw themselves to the ground to avoid being hit. The agents tore their t-shirts, kicked and detained them, and accused them of resistance and public disorder; (4) Maritza Lugo Fernández, former political prisoner, and vice-president of the Partido 30 de Noviembre Frank País, was detained at her home on December 23, 1999. The motives for her arrest are unknown. Mrs. Lugo Fernández is an observant Catholic and was going to participate, on December 24, 1999, in the religious procession to the Cathedral of Havana organized by the Church in Cuba. The Commission was informed that in the wake of this detention several political, trade union, and human rights organizations have been holding a vigil across from the Baraguá farm, situated at the Mirador del Diezmero in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón, in Havana, calling for the release of Maritza Lugo Fernández. These organizations are the Liga Cívica Martiana, Hermanos Fraternales por la Dignidad, Unión Cívica Nacional, Partido Pro-Derechos Humanos de Cuba, Tamarindo 34 Derechos Humanos, Confederation of Democratic Workers of Cuba, and the Movimiento Cristiano Liberación.
d. As indicated at the outset of this report, human rights activists were repressed in 1999. This was reported by Human Rights Watch/Americas in its World Report 2000, when it states: "The Cuban government silenced opposition through dogged repression of domestic human rights defenders in 1999. Authorities used surveillance, phone tapping, and intimidation to silence dissent."10 Human Rights Watch/Americas also reported that in June and July 1999, some 25 Cuban human rights defenders went on a 40-day hunger strike that received considerable public attention in support of giving an amnesty to the political prisoners. In July 1999, convicted dissident Marta Beatriz Roque began a liquid-based diet followed by a hunger strike to protest the lack of a government response to an appeal of her imprisonment, brought by her. Although it was reported that officials of the State Security service visited Roque to inform her that the prison staff would not try to stop her strike, on September 4, 1999, the Government agreed to answer the motion, and she ended her fast.11
e. The Commission was also informed that in late 1998, Cuban police and state security agents detained several members of the opposition and human rights organizations. The authorities apparently made the arrests to prevent the activists from being in the vicinity of the court where the trial was to take place, on March 1, 1999, of the four leaders of the Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna. The duration of the detentions varied from several hours to several days, and the detainees were enclosed in police stations and residences under the control of the Ministry of Interior. Many of the detained activists were threatened with criminal proceedings. The police apparently forced another 50 activists to remain in their homes during the trial. In October 1999, the police adopted repressive measures against the opposition, and ordered four human rights activists to remain in their homes. The detentions were apparently aimed at impeding their participation in human rights activities intended to call the attention of the Latin American and European heads of state attending the Ibero-American Summit in Havana, in November 1999.12
f. The sources of information agree in noting the difficult situation affecting human rights activists and peaceful opponents of the regime during the period covered by this report. On January 27, 2000, in Havana the National Coordinating Body of Political Prisoners and Former Political Prisoners released its Partial Report on Human Rights Violations in Cuba during 1999:
g. Freedom of the press was also affected during the period covered by this report, as numerous independent journalists were subject to arbitrary detention and harassed by the Cuban authorities in 1999. According to information provided to the Commission, agents of the Cuban State detained 15 independent journalists in late February 1999, with the intent of keeping them from covering the trial of the leaders of the Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna. On May 6, 1999, a court in Holguín ruled that two journalists and one of their companions were guilty of contempt for authority (desacato). It was reported that Manuel Antonio González Castellanos of the Cuba Press agency was tried for having criticized the head of state and other authorities in the course of a heated conversation with the local police in late 1998. Apparently, the police had verbally harassed González Castellanos that same day. The court sentenced him to two years and seven months in prison.13
h. The Commission was also informed that the Cuban authorities used the regulation on housing to harass independent journalists during the period covered by this report. In January 1999, the housing authorities of Santiago notified Margarita Sara Yero, director in Turquino for the Agencia de Prensa Independiente de Cuba, that they would evict her from the house where she had lived for the last 35 years. The officials stated that she had abandoned her house, but several neighbors confirmed that in fact it was her place of residence. On February 1, 1999, the police and housing officials called her neighbors to a public meeting, where it appears, they declared that Mrs. Sara Yero had not voted for Communist Party candidates and did not belong to the local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. The next day, Margarita Sara Yero received a written eviction notice.14
i. On January 18, 1999, the Cuban police detained Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández, director of the Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes in Morón, province of Ciego de Avila. The next day, the Municipal Court of Morón found him guilty of "dangerousness," set forth at Articles 72 ff. of the Criminal Code, and sentenced him to four years in prison. The Commission was also informed that in the same zone, just a few days later, on January 27, 1999, the police of Ciego de Avila detained Pedro Argüelles Morán of Cuba Press for two days. That same week, the Havana police had detained María de los Angeles González Amaro, Director of the Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes (UPECI), Nancy Sotolongo, a journalist with UPECI, Santiago Martínez Trujillo, a photographer with UPECI, and Angel Pablo Polanco, of the Cooperativa de Periodistas Independientes, who they held for three to five days. The arrests apparently occurred due to the fact that the journalists had intended to cover an event marking the first anniversary of the Pope's January 1998 visit to Cuba. It was reported that the police official warned González Amaro that he would be tried for association to engage in criminal conduct and disobedience if he continued his activities.15
j. The right to association of the independent trade unions that wish to form groups other than the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba--the only union affiliated with the Communist Party that is allowed in Cuba--continued to be severely restricted in Cuba, and the individuals who tried to organize such groups were harassed by the Cuban authorities. In effect, the Commission was informed that the Havana police detained José Orlando González Bridón, of the Confederación de Trabajadores Democráticos de Cuba (CTDC), for brief periods in November and December 1998 and January 1999. On each such occasion, González Bridón was participating in a protect against the trials of dissidents. The Cuban authorities arrested Ofelia Nardo Cruz, an attorney with the CTDC, on January 6, 1999, and held her for several hours.
18. The situation set forth throughout this section of this report is a source of serious concern for the Inter-American Commission, as the Commission finds that there have not been significant changes in the human rights situation in Cuba or in the repressive pattern used by the State against those groups or individuals who seek to exercise their rights to the freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The repressive apparatus of the State continues intense harassment of all those who display attitudes that are somehow at odds with the official line. While it is true that penalties involving deprivation of liberty are less severe than in previous years, it is also true that trials and sentences are still used to harass individuals for political reasons associated with the exercise of rights recognized in the international human rights instruments.
19. Despite the conditions described above, the groups that defend human rights, as well as politically-oriented groups, continued to grow even though they are harassed and berated by calling them "counter-revolutionaries" and "small groups" (grupúsculos). The Commission considers that these groups, in addition to having the right to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association legitimately, constitute a form of pluralism within a system characterized by State control, which operates through Cuba's constitutional and criminal provisions.
20. The organization Human Rights Watch/Americas, in a book entitled "Cuba's Repressive Machinery: Human Rights Forty Years After the Revolution," published in June 1999, stated as follows in this regard:
21. In this way the Cuban State expresses its lack of interest in modifying or reforming its current legislation, which is incompatible with international human rights law, insofar as it effectively provides a veil of legality for its repressive action. In effect, the Commission has recommended to the Cuban State, in many reports, that it eliminate from its criminal legislation all crimes that punish the freedom of association, assembly, and expression, including all provisions and procedures intended to create mechanisms of self-censorship or prior censorship. Within this context, the Commission, in its last report, asked the Cuban State to strike from the Criminal Code the provisions on dangerousness (estado peligroso), pre-criminal security measures (medidas de seguridad pre-delictivas), and the terms socialist legality (legalidad socialista), socially dangerous (socialmente peligrosa), norms for socialist comity (normas de convivencia socialista), enemy propaganda (propaganda enemiga), official warning (advertencia oficial), links or relations with persons potentially dangerous to society (vínculos o relaciones con personas potencialmente peligrosas para la sociedad), etc., as their vagueness and subjectivity constitute a factor of juridical insecurity that creates the conditions for the Cuban authorities to commit arbitrary acts.17
22. On December 20, 1999, the Commission received the testimony of a political prisoner at the Aguadores prison, located at Carretera Central, Kilometer 21 1/2, Melgarejo, El Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, who was sentenced to two years for índice de peligrosidad (indicia of dangerousness). In view of the importance of this testimony, the Commission transcribes some sections:
23. This testimony is evidence that the State continues to act without respect for due process, as laws are applied that are incompatible with the principles of legality, presumption of innocence, and the judicial guarantees set forth at Articles XVIII and XXVI of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The criminal law should punish offenses or frustrated attempts to perpetrate offenses, but never attitudes or presumptions as to attitudes. Dangerousness is the subjective concept of the one who evaluates it, and its vagueness contributes to the juridical insecurity of the population. The vagueness of these criminal offenses affects the legal situation of the accused in several respects: the applicable sanction, the court that hears the case, the characteristics of the procedure, and the definition of the offense. In effect, characterizing facts such as "indicator of dangerousness" implies that the court that takes cognizance of the matter will be dependent on the political authorities, that the accused will be tried under a very summary procedure20, with limited guarantees, and that a penalty of up to four years of deprivation of liberty will be imposed based on a subjective and vague definition of a criminal act.
24. Criminological doctrine is unanimous in recognizing that the prognosis of the subject's dangerousness, especially of pre-criminal dangerousness, is highly arbitrary, as it is not based on objective data with a clear criminological meaning, but rather on the considerations on the part of whoever has power. In this way, the determination of dangerousness is left to the discretion of the competent authority. The declaration of pre-criminal dangerousness is based on an assessment of probability: Based on certain current circumstances of the subject--the adoption of conduct that the legislators deem to consider indicative of social dangerousness--it is assumed that he or she will commit some crime in the future.
25. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has analyzed the question of the ambiguity and vagueness of norms of criminal law, indicating that:
26. The ambiguity, vagueness, and subjectivity of the provision regarding the concept of "dangerous status" in the Cuban Criminal Code is not the only one used by the State to systematically violate the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association. Human Rights Watch/Americas has stated that:
27. The provisions of the Cuban Criminal Code do not constitute the only instrument that serves the purpose of the group in power. The Constitution of Cuba establishes a series of rights and guarantees at Chapter VII which in theory should protect the freedom of expression, assembly, and association of the population, but in practice they are inoperative in view of the limitations and restrictions established by Article 62:
28. The Constitution of Cuba establishes the legal bases for censorship, since the State is the only one who can determine whether an oral or written communication, the right to association and assembly, or the rest of the rights set forth in the Constitution are contrary to "the aims of socialist society."23 The Constitution also sets forth the legal bases for State direction of art, culture, and the press.
29. The State’s intolerance for all forms of political opposition constitutes the main limitation to participation. The Constitutional bases that legitimize this tendency are in Article 62, cited above. Indeed, the political practice has shown that prejudice against public opposition is widespread. Since 1960, all information media have been in the hands of the State. As a result of this system, the main newspapers, such as Granma (the official organ of the Communist Party), Juventud Rebelde (organ of the Union of Communist Youth), and Trabajadores (organ of the Confederation of Workers of Cuba) only reflect governmental points of view. Only to a very limited extent do these newspapers cover the debates that may take place in the high-level organs of the State with decision-making capacity on issues of key interest to the citizens, giving priority to positive aspects over negative ones.
30. There are no legal means for openly challenging the policies of the Government and the Party, or for competing as a group, movement, or party organization for the right to govern, to replace the Communist Party and its leaders by peaceful means, and to formulate new and different policies. In summary, it is impossible to make an open and organized criticism of the official policy that makes the highest-level leaders susceptible to assuming responsibility, being accountable, and being removed. In other words, the Cuban regime insists on using various methods--control of information and scientific and cultural pursuit, temporary detentions, trial and imprisonment of opponents, independent journalists, etc.--with a view to neutralizing all political opposition.24
31. In November 1999, the Inter-American Press Association passed a joint resolution with the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations that confirms what the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has noted:
32. Neither the communique quoted above nor the efforts of the international community to describe the abuses committed by the states kept it from continuing to harass the non-official press. Thus, the limits set by Cuba's governing party on any type of criticism that would represent open opposition to the regime included reprisals ranging from dismissal from employment, cutting of phone lines, prohibition on leaving the country, house searches, and confiscation of equipment, to trials that entail penalties involving deprivation of liberty. According to information provided by the Inter-American Press Association, at this time the following journalists are serving prison terms: Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, at the Ariza prison, province of Cienfuegos, sentenced to six years for the crime of contempt of President Fidel Castro and Vice-President Carlos Lage; Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández, sentenced to four years for the crime of dangerousness, in the Canaleta prison, Ciego de Avila; and Manuel González Castellanos and Leonardo Varona, two-and-a-half years for contempt, at the El Típico prison, province of Holguín. The most notorious episode of recent years unfolded on September 24, 1999, in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba. There, the political police arrested journalist Santiago Santana when he was preparing to attend a mass in the provincial cathedral. At the time of his detention a tape recorder and a camera were confiscated from him. In addition, at about the same time, within a few hours, journalists Osvaldo de Céspedes, Pablo Polanco, and María del Carmen Carro were arrested. Others have been questioned in the streets or in their homes by State Security agents, who threatened to apply Law 8826 to them. In addition, phone lines of correspondents continue to be cut during national and international calls. At present, some 20 small press agencies operate in Cuba, bringing together some 100 journalists, staff, and apprentices. Despite the proliferation of specialized agencies based in the provinces, after the entry into force of Law 88, approximately 24 correspondents have left Cuba, or have sought to leave. This group includes some of those who were playing a key role in alternative journalism. In that context, the Cuban State denied permission to travel to journalist Raúl Rivero, who received an honorable mention in the prestigious María Moors Cabot journalism prize, given annually by Columbia University, in New York.27
33. The Commission was also informed that Lorenzo Páez Núñez, who works in the Artemisa area, some 60 kilometers to the west of Havana, is being harassed by the authorities of his municipality, who threatened to apply Law 88 to him. Páez Núñez, it should be noted, already served 18 months for the alleged offense of disseminating false news. Journalist Jesús Labrador Arias, of the eastern province of Manzanillo, 900 kilometers east of Havana, was similarly threatened. Two journalists from Havana, María de los Angles Amaro and Aurora García del Buso, also reported episodes in which the police or civilian institutions working with the State threatened and harassed them. Cutting phone lines, by the state company ETECSA, has been described as a means of harassment.
34. The Commission considers that the limitations to which freedom of the press, assembly, and association are subject in Cuba are censurable, especially the pressures, systematic harassment, and punishments to which journalists who try to exercise their fundamental rights are subjected. In accordance with what has been indicated, the Commission considers that there is no freedom of expression in Cuba that allows for political dissent, which is fundamental for a democratic government. To the contrary, the oral, written, and televised press is an instrument for official promotion, and without prejudice to the self-criticism voiced by these means, the press obeys the dictates of the group in power.
35. The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man sets forth the right to justice and due process in the following articles:
36. In the view of the Commission, the effective observance of the guarantees contained in the articles cited above is based on the independence of the Judiciary, derived from the classic separation of powers. This is a logical consequence that derives from the very concept of human rights. In effect, if one seeks to protect the rights of individuals vis-à-vis the possible actions of the State, it is essential that one of the organs of that State have independence so as to enable it to judge both the actions of the Executive and the lawfulness of the laws issued, and even of the decisions issued by its own members. Therefore, the Commission considers that the effective independence of the Judicial branch is an essential requirement for the effective observance of human rights in general.
37. One of the individual rights which, throughout history, has always been considered fundamental--as a guarantee of the proper administration of justice in the determination of the rights and responsibilities of the individual, and as an instrument for protection from the abuses of power--is the right to a fair trial and to an equitable procedure, also known as the right to due process or the right to regular process.
38. Due process constitutes a set of norms set forth in positive law whose purpose is to guarantee justice, equity, and honesty of the judicial procedures in which an individual may be involved. This right, in addition to constituting a guarantee, in terms of fairness and propriety, of any judicial procedure in which the rights or obligations of an individual are at stake--or in which an effort is made to determine an individual's possible criminal liability--is also an instrumental right, insofar as it may be a guarantee for the exercise and enjoyment of other rights of the person. In effect, an unjust or arbitrary judicial decision--in addition to constituting a human rights violation in itself--may constitute the adequate tool for justifying or legitimating the prior deprivation of other human rights such as the right to life, personal liberty, freedom of expression, assembly and association, etc. In addition, even when such violations have not been committed directly by the judiciary, it may become an instrument for such violations through the adoption of decisions which--as they stray from the principles and rules of regular process--are unjust and constitute the seal by which impunity is sought for such abuses of power.
39. The Commission will now analyze the normative framework of the administration of justice in Cuba, and then discuss the legal provisions related to the right to justice and regular process. To conclude, the actions of the Cuban State with respect to such rights will be discussed.
40. The Commission observes that there is no separation of powers in Cuba such as would guarantee the independence of the administration of justice and checks and balances for the exercise of power. The Commission recognizes that the mere constitutional stipulation of the independence of the judicial organs with respect to the political power is a necessary but not sufficient condition to ensure the proper administration of justice. As this separation of powers is not established in the constitution, the administration of justice is, in fact and in law, subordinated to the political power. In effect, Article 121 of the Cuban Constitution stipulates:
41. The subordination of the courts of justice to the National Assembly of People's Power, and especially to the Council of State, establishes a relationship of dependency with respect to the Executive. This relationship is reinforced by the function of the Council of State "to give the laws in force, when necessary, a general and binding interpretation."28 In addition, the Constitution sets broad margins within which that interpretation may be rendered, in Article 62 of the Constitution, analyzed above.29
42. As has been indicated, the courts of justice in Cuba are subordinated to the Council of State, and Article 74 of the Constitution provides: "The President of the Council of State is the Head of State and Head of Government." In other words, the head of state of Cuba has concentrated, in himself, all the state organs. Thus, the Council of State is the political organ that should render the official interpretation of how such vague terms as "the existence and aims of the socialist state" and "the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism" are to be understood. Subordinated to that interpretation are all the "freedoms citizens are recognized to have"; and it is the administration of justice that is charged with applying the interpretations to particular cases. This ideological and political bias is reinforced by the functions that the Constitution grants to the courts and other State organs:
43. The subordination of the administration of justice to the political power causes great insecurity and fear in the citizens, which is reinforced by the weakness of procedural guarantees, especially in trials of peaceful opponents to the regime or human rights activists. The Commission should note that the Cuban Constitution sets forth six rights related to due process and the right to justice: (1) to be judged by a regular jurisdiction; (2) to have the services of a lawyer; (3) to personal inviolability and integrity while under the custody of the authorities; (4) not to be required to testify during the proceeding, which is linked to the guarantee against statements obtained through torture; (5) to be tried on the basis of criminal laws promulgated prior to the accusation of the offense; and (6) the right to turn freely to the courts to demand justice.31
44. In practice, however, these procedural guarantees are inoperative. The main limitation is in the Constitution itself, which establishes at Article 62 that none of the freedoms recognized in it may be exercised "against the existence and aims of the socialist state." The relevance of this provision is that it regulates, at the highest level, the practical exercise of the rights and freedoms that the Constitution recognizes to vest in Cuban citizens in their relations with the state organs. Therefore, the provision of this article is binding on all political, social, and cultural life in Cuba. It is also questionable to establish constitutional limitations on rights and freedoms based on vague and imprecise criteria such as "the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism." These criteria clearly go beyond the legal realm, as they go to politics. Accordingly, the single governing party in Cuba will be the one who ultimately decides, in each case, whether the exercise of a given freedom or right opposes this postulate. This eliminates any possibility of defense of the individual vis-à-vis the political power, as the Constitution provides for the arbitrary exercise of power vis-à-vis the Cuban people.
45. The Code of Criminal Procedure establishes serious restrictions and limitations on the guarantees considered associated with the existence of an impartial trial: the right of the accused to be informed of the accusations against him or her, the right to choose defense counsel, the right of the accused to confront his or her accusers, the right to a reasonable time for the accused and defense counsel to prepare the defense, the right of the accused to present and question witnesses, and the right of the accused and defense counsel to be advised in timely fashion of the date of the trial. In effect, this code allows the police and other "authorities"--without specifying which authorities--to arrest, without judicial order, any person accused of a crime against state security or of acts that "have caused alarm or are among those committed frequently in the territory of the municipality." While the first situation, related to persons suspected of political crimes, endangers dissidents, the wording of the second one is so ambiguous as to allow the police to make arrests legally, without a warrant, with a minimal justification.32
46. This code also allows the police and the authorities to detain a person for up to a week before a court reviews the legality of the detention. The law affords the prosecutor an additional 72 hours to decide whether to send the accused to prison, to release him, or to impose less severe restrictions. The court also reviews the legality of the detention if the prosecutor decides to imprison or place other restrictions on the accused.33 Here, once again, one must cite the Cuban Constitution, which at Article 128 indicates: "The Attorney General receives direct instructions from the Council of State," whose maximum leader is the Cuban head of state. At this stage of the analysis one should note the opinion of Human Rights Watch, which comments on the absence of due process in Cuba and the restrictions on due process imposed by the Code of Criminal Procedure:
47. During the period covered by this report, the Commission has continued receiving information on the irregularities committed in trials with political overtones. In effect, judicial proceedings against persons accused of "counterrevolutionary activity" are not entirely public, as the hearing rooms are full of police and State Security agents, impeding access to journalists and persons other than family members. In this regard, the Commission was informed that in March 1999, when four activists of the Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna (GTDI) were put on trial--economists Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello and Vladimiro Roca, engineering professor Félix Antonio Bonne Carcasés, and attorney René Gómez Manzano--they had already spent approximately 19 months in pretrial detention. The public, press, and international observers did not have access to the judicial proceedings. Only nine of the dissidents' relatives were allowed to attend. The court did not allow Mr. Gómez Manzano, the leader of an independent group of lawyers that the Government had earlier stripped of authority, to argue in his own defense. The court sentenced Roca Antúnez to five years, Bonne Carcasés and Gómez Manzano to four years each, and Roque Cabello to three-and-a-half years.36
48. The Commission was also informed that during the period covered by this report, "The government controlled Cuban courts, undermining the right to a fair trial by, in particular, restricting the right to a defense. The Council of State, a political entity presided over by President Castro, reviewed all death penalty cases, undercutting judicial independence. Cuban courts failed to observe the few due process rights available to defendants under the law."37 In addition, with respect to the time given an accused and his or her attorney to prepare the defense, it has been noted that they are not given the file with sufficient lead time. Accordingly, the defense counsel's intervention is essentially limited to the trial stage, and this based on defense counsel meeting with the accused one hour prior to the trial, and in many cases at the moment of trial. This system also reduces the ability of the defense to call its own witnesses, in contrast to the accuser, who does call witnesses, especially in the case of human rights activists and peaceful opponents. In this respect, Amnesty International, in a June 1999 report, notes, inter alia:
49. The presentation throughout this section of the report leads the Commission to consider that the administration of justice continues to be subordinated to the political power, with a detrimental impact on the fundamental conditions for the effective observance of due process. It is clear that in respect of political trials, the courts continue to rely more on the values of the only ideology allowed in Cuba, than on proper judicial proceedings. Further, there is no independent judiciary, on the basis of constitutional provisions with ideological or political references that violate the principle of equality before the law, since the Communist Party members are placed on a higher plane than all other Cuban citizens who seek to embrace an alternative opinion or to take issue with the political system in place.
50. The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, at Article XXV, establishes, inter alia: "No person may be deprived of his liberty except in the cases and according to the procedures established by pre-existing law.... Every individual who has been deprived of his liberty has the right to have the legality of his detention ascertained without delay by a court, and the right to be tried without undue delay or, otherwise, to be released. He also has the right to humane treatment during the time he is in custody."
51. The above-noted principles mean that every person submitted to any form of detention or imprisonment must be accorded humane treatment, with due respect for the dignity inherent to the human being. In addition, that his or her arrest, detention, or imprisonment shall be carried out only strictly according to law, and by competent officers, and that none of his or her fundamental rights shall be restricted except, naturally, those that constituted the content of the penalty imposed. In this regard, any deprivation of liberty must have well-defined objectives, the bounds of which must not be overstepped by the prison authorities, not even under the veil of their disciplinary powers, and, therefore, the inmate must not be marginalized, but reinserted in society. In other words, the prison practice must meet a basic principle: no suffering should be added on the deprivation of liberty than that which this very deprivation represents. The prisoner must be accorded humane treatment, on par with his or her human dignity, at the same time as the system seeks to bring about social reinsertion. In this respect, the Commission has noted:
52. The problem of arbitrary detention and imprisonment for political reasons, and the harsh prison conditions that the inmates must bear have been a central concern of the Commission with respect to Cuba. This explains that an important part of its prior reports were aimed at analyzing the situation of political prisoners, and that two of these reports have addressed this matter exclusively.
53. In this context, it is noteworthy that the Commission receives information each year on the number of political prisoners in Cuba thanks to the collaboration of various human rights groups in Cuba, and in particular through the delegates and activists of the Coordinadora Nacional de Presos y Ex Presos Políticos (CNPEPP), the Coordinadora Obrera Cubana (COC), and the Oficina de Información de Derechos Humanos (OIDH), all Cuban-based organizations. According to their most recent information, these organizations report that they have duly registered 424 prisoners who are serving sentences for political offenses. Of these, 130 are classified as political prisoners of conscience, while 123 are serving sentences for causes not considered to be of conscience, but whose trials entailed flagrant violations of due process and/or they were tried and convicted without any proof of the charges. The remaining 171 were tried and convicted for the crimes of "piracy" (piratería) and "leaving the country illegally" (salida ilegal del país).40
54. Based on type of cause, the 130 Cuban political prisoners were classified as follows: enemy propaganda (15); illicit association (2); contempt of authorities (15); other acts against state security (17); disclosing secrets concerning state security (11); rebellion (21); espionage (19); sedition (4); social dangerousness (21); subornation (1); aiding and abetting after the fact (2); breach of duty to denounce (1). TOTAL: 130.41
55. As per the 123 prisoners who were tried without the proper judicial guarantees or convicted on charges without proof, the breakdown is as follows: destruction of property (2); infiltration (11); criminal assault (22); sabotage (71); terrorism (17). TOTAL 123. As for the rest of the 424 Cuban prisoners held for political reasons, the breakdown is as follows: piracy (111); leaving the country illegally (60). TOTAL: 171.42
56. Furthermore, the latest report from these organizations notes that the repression and political intolerance of the regime has been the only response to the democratic proposals and peaceful protest actions by the dissidence. These organizations also reaffirmed their demand that the human dignity of all Cubans be respected with no distinctions of any kind. The OIDH, COC, and CNPEPP all call for amnesty for all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and are grateful for the liberties achieved thanks to the initiatives of some governments and His Holiness John Paul II. That report also mentions that "at the beginning of this millennium we raise our voices in protest once again in the face of the rising wave of repression that has been unleashed. Several detentions, restrictions on movement, threats, and new charges marked the farewell to the 20th century." It also reports that at present there are 59 cases pending trial, of which 35 persons will be tried on charges of "enemy propaganda," 14 for "contempt of authority," seven for "illicit association," and three for "social dangerousness." Of these cases to be judged, nine persons have already been deprived of liberty. These are: Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, Angel Moya, Guido Sigler, Fermín Scull, Eduardo Díaz Feitas, José Aguilar, Marcel Valenzuela, Carlos Oquendo, and Maritza Lugo.43
57. The statistics provided by these groups and the situation prevailing in the Cuban prisons coincide approximately with the report from Amnesty International released in June 1999:
59. Following are some of the most significant cases to have occurred in the period covered by this report that display the situation prevailing in Cuban prisons:
a. On April 22, 1999, the Board of Administration of the Boniato prison and the Director of the Department of State Security called a meeting at the prison theater of the members of the Board of Inmates, for the purpose of giving them orientation and instructions to harass and beat the political prisoners. These orientations were given by Lt. Juan Carlos Rodríguez, in general terms, to the chiefs of the Board of Inmates, and in particular to criminals Orlando del Toro León (alias "Mauser"), and Julián Ramos Rangel of the 9th section, where the political prisoners from the Movimiento Pedro Luis Boitel, Francisco Herodes y Díaz Echemendía are kept. These common prisoners have authorization to beat, harass, and steal the belongings of the political prisoners in exchange for conjugal visits, better food, and medical care. The Prison Director is Major Elio Avila Godínez.
b. Political prisoner Jorge Luis Ortega Palacios was held for more than 60 days in a punishment cell that was completly enclosed at the Kilo 8 high-security prison, located on the Luis Lazo highway, in Pinar del Río. He suffered punishment due to the fact that he persistently stood up for the prisoners' rights. He was recently subjected to a summary trial in a hearing in the provincial capital of Pinar del Río for the offense of contempt of the person of Commander Fidel Castro. His mother, Mrs. Rosalía Palacios, was perplexed on observing that the attorney who argued her son's defense was not the same one who she had appointed.
c. Denis Díaz Chinea, 23 years old, resident of the municipality of Florencia, province of Ciego de Avila, innoculated himself with the AIDS virus and is being held in cell 63, corridor 4, in the isolation section of the Canaleta Provincial Prison. He is not receiving any treatment. Díaz was imprisoned for a fine he was unable to pay, and which was imposed on him for residing illegally in the province of Santa Clara. He was sentenced to one year and three months of prison. On September 21, 1999, this prisoner wrote the following letter:
d. José Agramonte Leyva, 23 years old, is confined in the "La Disciplinaria" Kilo 9, prison at Camagüey, in section Nº 9. Agramonte is serving a sentence of six years deprivation of liberty, since 1995, for the alleged crime of enemy propaganda, and his situation in the prison has been aggravated by having been placed together with common prisoners. The authorities denied probation to José Agramonte, as punishment, because they found sharp objects among his belongings, which he has denied were his. Agramonte's mother fears for him, as he was severely beaten at the beginning of his sentence.
e. Arselio López Rojas served more than three-fourths of his sentence without, to date, the prison authorities having given him the benefit of parole, to which he had a right pursuant to Article 58(1)(b) of the Criminal Code.46 López Rojas, a native of Villa Clara, is confined in cubicle 11 of section No. 7 in the Kilo 8 prison in the province of Camagüey. According to information provided to the Commission, before being transferred to that prison López lost a toe due to lack of medical care at the Santa Clara provincial prison. López Rojas is serving a seven year six month prison sentence arising from case Nº 113 of 1993, for his presumed illegal exit from and entry to his country of origin.
f. Jorge Luis García Antúnez, a political prisoner sentenced to 15 years deprivation of liberty for the presumed crime of enemy propaganda and attempted sabotage in cases 4/90 and 5/93. He was to receive a visit from his family members on May 4, 1999, but the re-educator in section Nº 4, by the name of "Pinito," reported that he had suspended the visit because Jorge Luis had fasted on February 24, 1999, to commemorate the downing of the Hermanos al Rescate planes, and also because he continued to display undisciplined conduct, and that he had tried to get clandestine letters out denouncing the prison director, the chief of the unit, and the chief of the re-educators. That they had taken that letter from him and that that was a display of lack of discipline, but that they understood that the lack of discipline shown on May 1, 1999, had been worse. That day the workers' parade was being shown on television and Jorge Luis refused to watch it. This is why he was denied the family visit.
g. Independent journalist and prisoner of conscience Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández, 25 years old, was kept in a punishment cell for five days. He was not given all of the medicines that his family brought to the Canaleta prison in Ciego de Avila. Díaz Hernández is the Director of the Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes and is in cell 36 of corridor 2 at that provincial prison. Díaz Hernández is serving a four-year prison sentence as of January 19, 1999, in case 1/99 before the Municipal Court of Morón, for alleged social dangerousness, even though the initial sentence was to be served in a labor correctional facility.
h. Prisoner of conscience Cecilio Monteagudo Sánchez, 27 years old, is being harassed by re-educator José Luis Collado Díaz in the Guamajal prison, in Santa Clara, province of Villa Clara. Monteagudo, who is a member of the Partido Solidaridad Democrática, was assaulted--instigated by the re-educator--by common prisoner Soria Pairol. The repressive measures taken against the victim also entail not giving him, or withholding from him, the care package, a shopping bag full of food, that his family brings him. Monteagudo Sánchez was sentenced to four years deprivation of liberty for the alleged crime of enemy propaganda. Though he has already served one-third of the sentence, the prison authorities have refused to release him on parole.
i. Several prisoners who are tuberculosis patients, in the isolation cells at the Canaleta Provincial Prison in Ciego de Avila, have been sleeping on the floor of their cells for several months, due to the poor condition of their mattresses. In addition, there is poor ventilation, it is cold and humid, as water leaks in when it rains, and the hygienic and sanitary conditions and food are poor, as is the medical care. The AIDS patients in those cells suffer the same conditions.
j. On July 16, 1999, José Esquivel Ramos Rubio, 23 years old, a native of Havana, was brutally beaten with a marabou bat by re-educator Osiris in the Kilo Cinco y Medio prison in Pinar del Río, for having shouted "Fidel Castro is a murderer and the authorities of this prison do whatever they feel like." As a result, the prisoner had a wound on his upper lip, and a loose tooth. Instead of being sent to the infirmary, Esquivel Ramos was transferred to the punishment chamber.
60. The above-cited cases describe just a small part of the information received by the Commission, which demonstrates that overcrowding, poor hygiene, scarce and low-quality food, deficient medical care, beatings, confinement in punishment cells--with doors closed and no access to light--confinement of common prisoners together with those imprisoned for political reasons, and of convicts with persons held in pretrial detention, and limited family visits are some of the conditions prevailing today in Cuban prisons.
61. The Commission was also informed that of the 514 prisons in Cuba, Kilo 8, the so-called Maximum Severity prison, is of special importance Kilo 8 is in the central province of Camagüey; it is one of 60 prisons in that region known by the prison population as "I lost the key" due to the reports of torture and cruel and inhuman treatment accorded political prisoners who have been transferred from other prisons for having resisted the political re-education plan imposed by the authorities. The Special Regime of the Kilo 8 prison was established in early 1992 with order No. 50 of the Ministry of Interior, and it includes the phases of lesser severity and greater severity. The phase of greater severity was earmarked for the following category of prisoners: (a) those whose death penalty has been commuted; (b) the prisoners who have committed significant criminal acts in prison; (c) those who have organized prison strikes or riots; (d) the prisoners who don't take to the political re-education plan; and (e) those who have committed offenses against State Security and who persist in their recalcitrance. In other words, all the inmates who fit these parameters were transferred to this place. It has been noted that the political prisoners who are most inflexible in the face of re-education in the prisons are under this regime, but it is also reported that these authorities are the ones who engage in the greatest repression and harassment. "This is the '26', here the magic's over," the authorities tell a large number of prisoners who arrive and who are received by severe beatings as a show of force and power. The Regime of Greater Severity has two phases, each lasting one year. Nonetheless, it has been noted that there are prisoners who spend more than five years in this special regime, and many still in the first phase. The prohibitions to which the special regime prisoners are subject do not exist in the other prisons in the country. They are not allowed to watch television, nor to possess razor blades for shaving, metal vessels, mirrors, glass bottles, etc. Wherever they are taken they have to be handcuffed, most of the time with their hands behind their back. To shave, cut their hair, or visit with family members they must be handcuffed. They are prevented from taking sun in the outdoor area, and have no access to recreation, sports, or any other activity. They suffer most the repression and corporal punishments. Silence is imposed at 9:00 p.m., and often earlier.
62. The Commission must note its profound concern over the grave prison conditions in Cuba, which are clearly in violation of international human rights principles and provisions, such as the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.47 The Commission observes, furthermore, that the treatment is more severe and degrading in the case of prisoners who are serving sentences for political crimes. The State continues using the criminal justice system as the basis of its social defense, as the purpose of the punishments is to protect the group in power from the "socially dangerous" persons and seek the political re-education of the person punished.
V. THE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS
63. In its recent reports, the Commission has been noting that measures need to be taken, both internal and internationally, to bring about the unfettered observance of human rights in Cuba. In this context, the Inter-American Commission is of the view that it is the Cuban State that needs to make the main effort to incorporate, into its statutory and constitutional order, and into its practice, those elements that render it compatible with international human rights law. In addition, the Commission considers that it is the citizens of Cuba, without exception, who should have the opportunity to make a free pronouncement on matters that so profoundly affect the exercise of their rights. The Commission considers that it is through democratic procedures and the full exercise of the rights inherent in the human person that current differences can be overcome peacefully, and at the least social cost to the population.
64. At the same time, the Commission must note that the inter-American community has the responsibility to create external conditions that enable Cuban society to overcome the situation currently affecting it, with a view to achieving the full observance of human rights. In this regard, the Commission considers that the adverse effects of the economic sanctions and other unilateral measures aimed at isolating the Cuban regime constitute an obstacle to creating those conditions that are so necessary for achieving a peaceful and gradual transition to a democratic form of government.
65. In this respect, the Commission considers that it is important to reproduce parts of a document signed by 14 groups of the internal Cuban dissidence circulated in November 1999, in the wake of the Ninth Ibero-American Summit, held in Cuba:
66. These key Cuban dissidents are not the only ones who have expressed the view that the embargo is useless if the aims sought are greater respect for human rights and a gradual and peaceful transformation to a democratic form of government. The organization Human Rights Watch/Americas also stated that the "approach to Havana remained defined by the all--encompassing trade embargo, despite its failure over more than three decades to bring about improvements in human rights practices in Cuba. The embargo continued to be an all—or--nothing policy rather than a calibrated tool designed to respond to changes in Cuban human rights practices. President Castro invoked the embargo to tighten restrictions on fundamental freedoms in 1999."49
67. For its part, the United Nations General Assembly, during its 50th plenary meeting, adopted Resolution Nº 54/21 of November 9, 1999, entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba." Following are excerpts of that resolution:
68. The Commission trusts that the necessary measures will be adopted to end the trade embargo against Cuba, as the economic sanctions and unilateral measures aimed at isolating the Cuban regime have a grave impact on the economic and social rights of the population, which is the most vulnerable sector in this whole problem. The Commission is also of the view that the internal reforms, both political and economic, would be facilitated if the current isolation to which Cuba is subject were ended. In addition, it considers that the prolonged policies of economic sanctions have been converted into a way to justify the limitations and failure to open up the system. These measures merely reaffirm the political aims of the official sectors of the Cuban State, who fear any loosening of the current control of society.
69. In the context of its functions and attributes, the Commission will continue to observe the human rights situation in Cuba and hopes that human rights will be effectively observed by decision of the Cuban authorities and people, and with the support of the inter-American community, of which Cuba is a part.
Based on all the foregoing, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has reached the following conclusions:
70. The Cuban State adopted some measures related to human rights that the Commission considers positive. In the Commission's view, the most important of such measures have to do with the release of 13 political prisoners in early 1999. The Commission hopes that the State will continue this process in order to put an end, once and for all, to the political imprisonment of hundreds of persons serving sentences in Cuban jails. Another measure worthy of special note is the reform of the Criminal Code with a view to affording greater protection to minors. In this regard, the system implemented by the State to attend to minors with behavioral problems, keeping persons under 16 outside of the criminal justice system, is important, as is the incorporation into the Criminal Code of the prohibition on corporal punishment or other measures detrimental to the dignity of prisoners. On this last point, the Commission trusts that the State will also incorporate in its legislation a criminal sanction for those prison authorities who violate this provision of criminal law.
71. Independent of the measures that the Cuban State may have adopted in respect of human rights, neither in fact nor in law do they constitute a substantial improvement in the prevailing situation. Last year, 1999, was a bad year for peaceful opponents, independent journalists and trade unionists, and human rights activists who sought, by various means--all peaceful--to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association, information, movement, and peaceful protest, but often saw their purposes frustrated by the severe and varied forms of sanction imposed by the Cuban State. These persons, who the State labels "counter-revolutionaries" and "small groups," constitute a pluralist alternative in a system characterized by the absolute control wielded by the State over its citizens, imposed through constitutional and criminal legislation. This legislation, characterized by provisions such as dangerousness, pre-criminal security measures, and the terms "socialist legality," "socially dangerous," "norms of socialist comity," "enemy propaganda," "rebellion," "official warning," "piracy," "links or relationships with persons potentially dangerous to society," constitute the perfect legal framework for the Cuban authorities to commit all types of abuses, arbitrary acts, and human rights violations. In the view of the Commission, not only are these provisions highly charged ideologically, imprecise, vague, and subjective, they are also incompatible with international human rights law.
72. The repressive apparatus of the State continues its intense harassment of all those who display attitudes that are in some way discordant with the official line. While it is true that the penalties depriving persons of liberty are less severe than in previous years, it is also true that trials and prison sentences continue to be used to harass people for reasons linked to the exercise of rights recognized in international human rights instruments. In this sentence, independent journalism has been one of the sectors most affected during the period covered by this report. Thus, the limits set by the State on any type of criticism that might represent open opposition to the regime encompassed reprisals that ranged from dismissals from the workplace, cutting of telephone lines, prohibition on exit from the country, house searches, and confiscation of equipment, to trials leading to imprisonment. Based on this situation, the Commission considers that there is no freedom of expression in Cuba that would allow political dissent, which is fundamental for democratic government. To the contrary, the media, both broadcast and print, operate as an instrument of ideological imposition and, without prejudice to the self-criticism transmitted by these means, answer to the dictates of the group in power and are useful for transmitting the messages from that group to the grass-roots and intermediate levels.
73. With respect to the right to justice and regular process, the Commission considers that de facto and de jure subordination of the administration of justice to the political power persists, with a detrimental impact on the practical observance of those rights. This creates a negative climate of uncertainty and fear among the citizens, which is reinforced by the weak procedural guarantees, especially in those trials which may directly or indirectly affect the system of power that exists in Cuba today. In addition, the Commission considers that the lack of a separation of powers that guarantees the independence of the administration of justice results in the grave violation of the right of the accused to a fair trial, which also limits other fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, individual liberty, freedom of expression, assembly, and association, etc.
74. In terms of prison conditions, the Commission must note its profound concern because the Cuban State violates the rights of the prison population every day. In effect, overcrowding, poor hygiene, scarce and low-quality food, deficient medical care, beatings, imprisonment in punishment cells--with the doors shut and without access to light--locking up political prisoners with common prisoners, and convicts with persons awaiting trial, limited or restricted family visits, are some of the conditions prevailing today in the Cuban prisons. These conditions violate international human rights principles and provisions governing such matters in instruments such as the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The Commission concludes, furthermore, that the treatment is more severe and degrading in the case of prisoners who are serving a sentence for political crimes. In addition, the State continues using the prison system as the basis for its social defense, as the function of the sanctions is to protect the group in power from "socially dangerous" persons and to seek the political re-education of the person sanctioned.
75. With respect to the continuity of a policy of economic sanctions, the Commission considers that the inter-American community bears the responsibility for creating external conditions that make it possible for Cuban society to overcome the situation currently affecting it with a view to achieving unrestricted observance of human rights. In this regard, the Commission considers that the adverse effects of the economic sanctions and other unilateral measures aimed at isolating the Cuban regime constitute an obstacle to creating those conditions, which are so necessary for achieving a peaceful and gradual transition to a democratic form of government. These measures merely reaffirm the political aims of the official sectors of the Cuban State that fear any loosening in the current control of society.
76. The persistence of human rights violations in 1999 requires the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to reiterate the same recommendations to the Cuban State as last year. These measures would substantially improve the human rights situation; in many cases they require purely administrative decisions. Accordingly, pursuant to Article 63(h) of its Regulations, the Commission makes the following recommendations to the Cuban State:
1. Cease the harassment and punishment of citizens for reasons having to do with the exercise of the freedom of expression, assembly, and association.
2. Adopt urgent measures with a view to the unconditional release of prisoners of conscience.
3. Eliminate from the criminal legislation all crimes that penalize, contrary to internationally accepted democratic standards, the freedom of expression, association, and assembly. In terms of freedom of press, repeal any provision or decree aimed at creating mechanisms of self-censorship or prior censorship.
4. Eliminate from the Criminal Code the provisions on dangerousness, pre-criminal security measures, and the terms "socialist legality," "socially dangerous," "norms of socialist comity," and "socialist morality," as their vagueness and subjectivity create legal insecurity, fostering the conditions for the Cuban authorities to commit arbitrary acts. In addition, eliminate the criminal provision that refers to "official warning," which is used to threaten individuals who have "links or relationships with persons potentially dangerous to society."
5. Adopt urgent measures with a view to carrying out a reform of the prison system for the purpose of improving the living conditions of the prison population. The Cuban State should carry out an exhaustive review of the background of prison authorities before placing them in the country's various prisons, so as to prevent mistreatment and abuse of the prisoners. In this regard, it would be important for the Cuban State to create a regulation with guidelines to be followed by those authorities to ensure they not overstep the bounds of their authority in performing their functions.
6. Adopt the necessary measures to allow for ideological and political-party pluralism for the full exercise of the right to political participation, in keeping with Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
VIII PROCESSSING OF THE REPORT
77. The draft report on the situation of human rights in Cuba was approved by the Commission during its 106º regular session. It was sent to the state on March 2000, pursuant to Article 63(h) of the Commission´s Regulations, in order to allow for the submission of observations within thirty days.
78. The Cuban State failed to present observations within the time limited provided.
79. On April 13, 2000, the Commission approved this report and its publication within Chapter IV of the present Annual Report.
* The IACHR does not include in this chapter States with respect to which the Commission is preparing general reports on the human rights situation pursuant to Article 62 of its Regulations, or has approved such reports during the period considered.
1 Ambassador Peter Laurie of Barbados did not participate in the discussion of this report, pursuant to Article 19(2)(a) of the Regulations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
2 United Nations, Concluding observations of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Cuba, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, CERD/C/304/Add.60, February 10, 1999. The Committee examined the 10th, 11th, and 12th periodic reports for Cuba (CERD/C/319/Add.4), at its 1290th and 1291st sessions.
3 United Nations, Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, 55th regular session, Civil and Political Rights, Including Questions of Torture and Detention, Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Opinion No. 1/1998 (Cuba), EN/CN.4/1999/63/Add.1, November 9, 1998.
4 Human Rights Watch, World Report 2000, p.27.
5 Amnesty International, Cuba, Los Presos de Conciencia Deben ser Liberados, September 14, 1999, p. 1, AI: AMR 25/36/99/s.
6 Inter-American Press Association, Quarterly Report. Independent Journalists Harassed in Cuba, Miami, February 2, 2000, p. 2.
7 United Nations, Economic and Social Council, 55th session, Item 11(c) of the program, Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of: Freedom of Expression, Written statement submitted by Reporters Sans Frontières, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status, p. 2, E/CN.4/1999/NGO/105, March 17, 1999.
8 European Union, Common Position, 1996, December 1998, June 1999, in Human Rights Watch/Americas, World Report 2000, pp. 30-31.
9 In relation to Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet González, Human Rights Watch/Americas reported: "In late January 1999, Havana police reportedly detained seven members of the Lawton Human Rights Foundation (FLDH), including the group's leader, Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet González, for four to six days. The human rights activists had planned to participate in a celebration of the first anniversary of the Pope's January 1998 visit to Cuba. The detentions prevented the FLDH members from taking part in the January 25 event, as they were not released until January 30, 1999. In August 1999, Cuban authorities again arrested and detained Biscet González for two days after he gave a lecture on non-violent civil disobedience. A witness reported that the police physically assaulted Biscet González and burned his arm with a cigar." Human Rights Watch/Americas, World Report 2000, p. 29.
10 Human Rights Watch/Americas, op. cit., World Report 2000, p. 29.
11 Human Rights Watch/Americas, op. cit., pp. 29-30.
12 Id., p. 30.
13 Id., p. 28.
15 Id., p. 29.
16 Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba’s Repressive Machinery: Human Rights Forty Years After the Revolution, June 1999, ISB: 1-56432-236-X, pp. 33-34.
17 The Cuban State justifies the detention of opponents to the regime, human rights activists, trade unionists, and independent journalists through Article 72 of the Criminal Code, which defines "dangerousness" as "the special proclivity of a person to commit crimes, shown by the conduct observed in manifest contradiction to the norms of socialist morality." Article 74 of the same Code complements this provision by indicating that "the dangerous state is noted when the subject displays one of the following indicia of dangerousness: (a) habitual drunkenness and alcoholism; (b) drug addiction; (c) antisocial conduct." Similarly, that article notes that "one who habitually breaks the rules of social co-existence through acts of violence or other provocative acts violates the rights of all others, or who by his or her conduct in general breaks the rules of coexistence or disturbs the order of the community or lives, as a social parasite, from the work of others, or exploits or practices socially reprehensible vices to be dangerous due to antisocial conduct." Article 75 of the Criminal Code also indicates that "one who, without being encompassed in any of the dangerous states referred to in Article 73, by his or her links or relationships with persons potentially dangerous to society, all other persons, and the social, economic, and political order of the Communist State, may have a proclivity to criminal conduct, shall be subject to a warning by the competent police authority, as a preventive measures to keep him or her from engaging in socially dangerous or criminal activities." If a person engages in conduct described by one of the above-noted types of dangerousness, the so-called medidas de seguridad, or security measures, may be applied, either prior to or after a crime is committed. In the case of pre-criminal security measures, Article 78 provides that one who is declared to be dangerous may be subjected to therapeutic, re-educational, or surveillance measures by the organs of the National Revolutionary Police. One of the therapeutic methods is, according to Article 79, institutionalization in a health care, psychiatric, or detoxification unit. Re-education applies to antisocial individuals, and entails institutionalization in a specialized work or study establishment and being turned over to a work collective for control and behavioral guidance. Such measures may last from one to four years.
18 The name of this person has been omitted for security reasons. The original document is in the files of the IACHR.
19 The name of this person has been omitted for security reasons. The original document is in the files of the IACHR.
20 In 1991, Decree Nº 128 was issued, establishing that the declaration of pre-criminal dangerous state should be decided summarily. In effect, according to this decree, the National Revolutionary Police creates the file with the report of the investigating agent, and the testimony of neighbors who attest to the conduct of the "dangerous person," and presents it to the municipal prosecutor, who decides whether to submit it to the People’s Municipal Court for it to sit in judgment of the degree of dangerousness within two working days following the date on which it is received. Within this time frame, the Court is to decide whether any other proceeding is appropriate, which would be performed within five working days. If the court considers the file to be complete, it will set a date for the hearing in which the parties will appear. Twenty-four hours after the hearing the Municipal Court should hand down its judgment. Several sources agree in noting that the characteristics of the summary process prevent the accused from having an adequate legal defense, since the pre-established time frames are not sufficient for contacting an attorney or for preparing a defense. Consequently, through the files on dangerousness, the State controls any suspect activity contrary to the official ideology with penalties entailing deprivation of liberty for up to four years.
21 Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Case of Castillo Petruzzi et al., Judgment of May 30, 1999, para. 121.
22 Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba’s Repressive Machinery..., op. cit., pp. 39-41.
23 Article 53 of the Cuban Constitution provides: "Citizens are recognized to have freedom of speech and freedom in conformity with the aims of socialist society. The material conditions for its exercise are determined by the fact that the press, television, film, and other mass media are state-owned or socially-owned and can in no case be privately-owned, which ensures their exclusive use at the service of the working people and in the interest of society. The law regulates the exercise of these freedoms."
24 Human Rights Watch, in its book published in June 1999, described how in June 1998 the Cuban government referred to the small group of independent reporters as "self-titled 'independent journalists' dedicated to defaming our people by means of the radio stations that broadcast from Miami against Cuba." Human Rights Watch added that as independent journalists do not have the means to publish their articles nationally, nor access to state-controlled radio or television, they generally send their information to the international press by telephone. In contrast, the Cuban government called on the official "‘truly free’ press to serve the socialist state by guaranteeing the continuity of socialist, patriotic, and anti-imperialist ideas and values, and the Revolution itself, for future generations of Cubans." In addition, in October 1998, a representative of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington stated: "We are not ashamed to admit that the national press is entirely at the service of the Communist Party and the Cuban people [and that as Communist Party efforts] to exercise adequate control over their [independent journalists'] subversive activities had proven insufficient, the party called upon its base organizations to drum up, in each block and community, a climate of social rejection of these elements, so that they will feel that their calumnies are repudiated and morally condemned by the people." In Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba’s Repressive Machinery, op. cit., pp. 167-168.
25 Inter-American Press Association, Commonwealth Press Union, International Association of Broadcasting, International Federation of the Periodical Press, International Press Institute, World Association of Newspapers, World Press Freedom Committee, London, November 5, 1999.
26 Law Nº 88 (Law for the Protection of National Independence and the Economy) was issued by the Cuban State in February 1999. Its first provision establishes: "to define as criminal conduct and to punish those acts aimed at supporting, facilitating, or collaborating with the Helms-Burton Act, the blockade, the economic war against Cuba, the subversion, and other similar measures aimed at harming, damaging, or endangering the independence, sovereignty, and integrity of the Cuban State. The supply, search for, or obtaining of information and bringing subversive materials into the country, or reproducing or disseminating them are considered criminal conduct. In addition, direct collaboration, or collaboration through third persons, with radio or television outlets, newspapers, magazines, or other mass media for the purposes set out in the law shall also be deemed criminal conduct." This law calls for prison terms of up to 20 years for the perpetrators of such deeds and their accomplices.
27 Inter-American Press Association, Miami, Florida, January 19, 2000.
28 Article 90(ch) of the Cuban Constitution.
29 See para. 27 of this report.
30 Article 10 of the Cuban Constitution.
31 Articles 59, 61, and 63 of the Cuban Constitution.
32 Article 113 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, cited by Human Rights Watch/Americas: Cuba’s Repressive Machinery, op. cit., p. 59.
33 Articles 243, 245, and 246 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
34 Articles 252(1) and (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
35 Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba’s Repressive Machinery, op. cit., p. 60.
36 Human Rights Watch/Americas, World Report 2000, op. cit., p. 27.
38 Amnesty International, Los Derechos Humanos en Cuba, Hoy. Principales Preocupaciones y Recomendaciones de Amnistía Internacional sobre Cuba, June 1999, AI Spanish Section, Group Specialized on Cuba, C/Fernando VI 8, 1º izqda. 28004, Madrid, Spain, p. 2.39 IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Brazil, p. 66, para. 37, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.97, Doc. 29 rev. 1, September 29, 1997, General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, Washington, D.C., 1997. 40 Coordinadora Nacional de Presos y ex-Presos Políticos (CNPEPP), Coordinadora Obrera Cubana (COC), Oficina de Información de Derechos Humanos (OIDH), Report of January 13, 2000, Havana, Cuba.
44 Amnesty International, op. cit., p. 3.
45 Human Rights Watch/Americas, World Report 2000, op. cit., pp. 27-28.
46 Article 58(1)(b) of the Cuban Criminal Code provides: "The court may order the conditional release of the prisoner if, taking stock of his or her individual characteristics and conduct during confinement, there are well-founded reasons to consider that he or she has reformed and that the purpose of the punishment has been attained, without need for serving the full sentence, so long as at least one of the following terms has expired: half of the sanction imposed, in the case of first-time violators."
47 The Cuban State has asserted that it is in compliance with the Standard Minimum Rules in a report by the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba, presented by Blanca Gutiérrez, Cuba's Attorney General for the Control of Legality in Penitentiary Establishments, to the Instituto Latinoamericano de las Naciones Unidas para la Prevención del Delito y el Tratamiento del Delincuente conference, San José, Costa Rica, February 1997, p. 5, in Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba’s Repressive Machinery, op. cit., p. 98.
48 Gisela Delgado Sablón (Centro de Estudios y Formación para el Desarrollo Integral de la Mujer Cubana), Osvaldo Payá Sardiñas (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación), Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz (Comisión de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional), Roberto Larramendi (Movimiento Independiente de Estudios Martianos), Carmelo Díaz Fernández (Unión Sindical Cristiana), Carlos Ríos Otero (Asociación de Veteranos Independientes Pro Paz), Jorge Omar Lorenzo Pimienta (Consejo Nacional por los Derechos Civiles), José Antonio Fornaris Ramos (Agencia Cuba Voz), Santiago Martínez Trujillo (Hermanos Fraternales por la Dignidad), José Manuel Rodríguez (Partido Federalista), José Gabriel Ramón Castillo (Proyecto del Instituto Independiente Cultura Democracia), Roberto de Miranda Hernández (Colegio Independiente de Pedagogos de Cuba), and Héctor Palacios Ruiz (Centro de Estudios Sociales), Havana, Cuba, November 12, 1999, information publicly disseminated by the Information Bureau of the Movimiento Cubano de Derechos Humanos, Miami, Florida, United States.
49 Human Rights Watch/Americas, op. cit., World Report 2000, p. 33.
50 United Nations, General Assembly, Resolution No. 54/21, "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba," A/RES/54/21, November 18,1999.