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    Inter-American Body Denounces Rights Policies of Venezuela, Cuba

    02 May 2006
    Inter-American Body Denounces Rights Policies of Venezuela, Cuba

    New report by Organization of American States details human rights abuses

    By Eric Green
    Washington File Staff Writer

    Washington — The Organization of American States (OAS) is expressing
    concern about the human-rights situations in Venezuela and Cuba.

    In a May 2 statement, the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
    said in Venezuela the government of President Hugo Chávez is “maligning”
    the country’s human-rights workers by referring to such workers as “coup
    plotters” and agents of instability.

    The commission said it also was concerned that Venezuelan human-rights
    groups are being prosecuted for receiving financial support from
    international rights organizations. These prosecutions are being made,
    said the commission, under the guise of “soliciting foreign intervention
    in [Venezuelan] internal political affairs.”

    The concerns were made in the commission’s annual report on the
    human-rights situation in the Western Hemisphere, in which a chapter was
    included about Venezuela. In that chapter, the OAS commission said it
    had received reports of the “impunity” that “surrounds the phenomena of
    violence against socially marginalized persons and the persecution of
    those living in rural areas who are involved in the process of agrarian
    reform.”

    In its chapter about Cuba, the OAS human-rights commission expressed
    concern about the lack of free and fair elections “based on universal
    suffrage and secret balloting as an expression of sovereignty of the
    people” in that Caribbean nation.

    The OAS report recounted a series of acts of harassment carried out
    against political dissidents of the Cuban government during 2005.
    Several people were detained under the charge of “pre-criminal
    dangerousness,” meaning these people were not charged with any crime,
    but detained as a security measure.

    The human-rights commission said it received information on the
    continued practice of the Cuban courts to judge the accused based on
    ideological and political criteria. The commission said it 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 said it also continued to receive reports of acts of
    repression and censorship against those wishing to express themselves
    freely in Cuba. Such acts included mistreatment of journalists,
    criminal prosecution and imprisonment of independent journalists, prior
    censorship, attacks and acts of intimidation against journalists and the
    application of so-called “contempt” laws.

    Another abuse in Cuba, according to the commission, concerned the harsh
    prison conditions of most prisoners in that country, in particular, of
    political dissidents. A group of 75 dissidents sentenced in April 2003
    remains imprisoned under poor conditions, the commission said.

    The United States and the international community repeatedly have
    condemned human rights abuses in Venezuela and Cuba. A report released
    April 5 by the U.S. State Department says that in Venezuela “continued
    politicization of an already corrupt and inefficient judiciary,
    implementation of new laws governing libel and media content that
    further restricted freedom of speech and press, and official harassment
    of the political opposition characterized the human rights situation”
    during 2005.

    The department’s report, called Supporting Human Rights and Democracy:
    The U.S. Record 2005-2006, also said other “serious problems remained”
    in Venezuela. The report cited police and military units that killed
    criminal suspects in “confrontations,” which “eyewitness testimony often
    categorized as executions.”

    For Cuba, the State Department report said that for 47 years, the Cuban
    government of Fidel Castro has “consistently spurned domestic and
    international calls for greater political tolerance and respect for
    human rights.”

    In 2005, the Cuban government continued to ignore or violate virtually
    all of its citizens’ fundamental rights, including the right to change
    their government. In addition, the Cuban people did not enjoy freedom
    of speech, press or movement, and were denied the right to assemble
    peacefully or freely form associations, said the report. The Western
    Hemisphere section of the report is available on the State Department
    Web site.

    For more on U.S. policy toward Venezuela and Cuba, see The Americas.

    (The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International
    Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
    http://usinfo.state.gov)

    http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2006&m=May&x=200605021640301xeneerg0.8084223&t=livefeeds/wf-latest.html

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