THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS EXPRESSES CONCERN FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN CUBA
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has presented its annual report for 2005, which includes a chapter on human rights in Cuba. In this chapter, the Commission reports that the lack of free and fair elections based on universal suffrage and secret balloting as an expression of sovereignty of the people of Cuba, which violates the right to participate in government as enshrined in Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. Likewise, the IACHR reports on violations of due process guarantees and lack of independence of the judiciary; conditions of detention of persons deprived of liberty due to their political dissidence; violations of the right to freedom of expression; the situation of human rights defenders; violation of labor and union rights of workers and the restrictions placed on the exercise of right of residence and transit of the island’s inhabitants.
As for the guarantees to due process of law and the independence of the judiciary, the Commission reports a series of acts of harassment carried out against political dissidents of the Cuban government during the year 2005. Several persons were detained under the charge of “pre-criminal dangerousness”, that is, not with any crime, but as a security measure. Likewise, the Commission received information on the continued practice of the Cuban courts to judge the accused based on ideological and political criteria. The Commission has stated consistently that Cuba lacks the separation of powers necessary to ensure an administration of justice free of interference from other branches of government.
The Commission received information on the harsh prison conditions of most prisoners in Cuba, in particular, of political dissidents. In the case of a group of 75 dissidents sentenced in April 2003, the IACHR expresses its concern for their poor detention conditions. The majority of these detainees are incarcerated in prisons far from their places of residence, telephone contact and correspondence are restricted, they suffer maltreatment by prison guards and many have been transferred to solitary confinement. The Commission also expresses its concern for the alarming deterioration of the health of various political dissidents. Some detainees suffer from chronic illnesses affecting their vision, kidneys and heart, for which they are not receiving appropriate medical care.
In 2005, the Commission continued to receive reports of acts of repression and censorship against those wishing to express themselves freely in Cuba. Information received by the IACHR reports the mistreatment of journalists, criminal prosecution and imprisonment of independent journalists, prior censorship, attacks and acts of intimidation against journalists and the application of contempt laws.
Furthermore, the Commission affirms various obstacles that exist for defenders of human rights in Cuba. The IACHR received constant reports of repressive actions taken against human rights defenders, such as disciplinary measures, indictment on criminal charges, temporary detention, dismissals from work, official warnings and prison sentences. The Commission observes that the authorities have stigmatized the work of human rights defenders in order to mislead part of the population on the role of those who defend and promote human rights. Likewise, the IACHR urged the Cuban government to promote a culture of human rights that publicly and unequivocally acknowledges the essential role performed by human rights defenders in helping to ensure democracy and the rule of law in society.
The Commission continued to receive information in 2005 on the human rights situation of workers and labor leaders, particularly on the restriction of freedom of association, the continual acts of harassment toward collaborators and activists of the independent trade union movement.
Additionally, the Commission received information showing that the State continues to deny Cuban nationals the right to come and go from the country of their free will, requires them to have authorization from the Ministry of the Interior to travel abroad, and continues restrictions on travel within the country that affect Cuban citizens as well as foreign residents and visitors to the country.
Finally, the Commission considers that the trade embargo imposed on Cuba for more than 40 years should end. This economic sanction has had a severe impact on the enjoyment of the economic and social rights of the population and, in short, the ones who have suffered its consequences have been the most vulnerable sectors of the Cuban population.
Washington, D.C., May 2, 2006