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    Amnesty International Cuba report 2007

    CUBA

    REPUBLIC OF CUBA

    Head of state and government: Raúl Castro Ruz (provisionally replaced
    Fidel Castro Ruz in July)
    Death penalty: retentionist
    International Criminal Court: not ratified

    Freedom of expression, association and movement continued to be severely
    restricted. At least 69 prisoners of conscience remained imprisoned for
    their political opinions. Political dissidents, independent journalists
    and human rights activists continued to be harassed, intimidated and
    detained, some without charge or trial. Cubans continued to feel the
    negative impact of the US embargo.
    Background

    During 2006 Cuba secured a place on the UN Human Rights Council and
    assumed the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement during its XIV Summit
    in Havana in September.

    In July, Fidel Castro underwent surgery and for the first time since
    1959 transferred his responsibilities to other senior officials,
    including his brother, Raúl Castro Ruz. Political opposition parties and
    activities were not tolerated.

    Political relations with the USA remained tense despite economic exports
    of agricultural products to Cuba exceeding US$500 million. The US
    Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba issued an update of its
    previous report in July. The European Union did not reintroduce
    sanctions lifted in 2005 despite continued concerns over the human
    rights situation in Cuba.

    The US government set up a law enforcement task force to track down and
    prosecute those who circumvent restrictions on travelling and commercial
    exchanges with Cuba. In November, for the 15th consecutive year, the UN
    General Assembly passed a resolution calling on the USA to end its
    embargo on Cuba.

    The government continued to deny the UN Special Rapporteur on the human
    rights situation in Cuba access to the country. AI and other independent
    human rights organizations were also not allowed to visit.
    Prisoners of conscience

    At the end of the year, 69 prisoners of conscience continued to be held
    for their non-violent political views or activities. Twelve others
    continued to serve their sentences outside prison because of health
    concerns. No releases of prisoners of conscience were reported during
    the year.

    • Orlando Zapata Tamayo was sentenced to three years in 2003 on charges
    of showing "contempt to the figure of Fidel Castro", "public disorder"
    and "resistance". In November 2005 he was reportedly sentenced to an
    additional 15 years for "contempt" and "resistance" in prison. In May
    2006, he was again tried on the same charges and sentenced to an
    additional seven-year term. He was serving a prison sentence of 25 years
    and six months.
    Detention without charge or trial

    Scores of people continued to be held without charge on suspicion of
    counter-revolutionary activities or on unclear charges. Their legal
    status remained unclear at the end of the year.

    • Prisoner of conscience Oscar Mariano González Pérez, an independent
    journalist who was arrested in July 2005 as he was about to take part in
    a demonstration in front of the French embassy, remained in detention
    without charge or trial.
    Freedom of expression and association

    Severe restrictions on freedom of expression and association persisted.
    All print and broadcast media remained under state control. There was a
    rise in the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists and
    librarians. People suspected of links with dissident groups or involved
    in promoting human rights were arrested and detained. There was an
    increase in arrests on charges of "pre-criminal dangerousness". Access
    to the Internet remained severely limited outside governmental offices
    and educational institutions. Journalist Guillermo Fariñas staged a
    seven-month hunger strike to obtain access to the Internet, without success.

    • Armando Betancourt Reina, a freelance journalist, was arrested on 23
    May as he took notes and photographs of evictions from a house in the
    city of Camagüey. He was charged with public disorder. Armando
    Betancourt was reportedly held incommunicado for a week at the police
    station before being transferred to Cerámica Roja prison in Camagüey on
    6 June. He was awaiting trial at the end of the year.
    Harassment and intimidation of dissidents and activists

    There was an increase in the public harassment and intimidation of human
    rights activists and political dissidents by quasi-official groups in
    so-called acts of repudiation.

    • Juan Carlos González Leiva, President of the Cuban Foundation for
    Human Rights, was reportedly the target of several "acts of repudiation"
    - involving government supporters reportedly acting with the collusion
    of the authorities – at his home in the city of Ciego de Avila. He and
    his family were repeatedly threatened by demonstrators. Juan Carlos
    González Leiva, who is blind, was arrested in March 2002 for
    "disrespect", "public disorder", "resistance" and "disobedience" and
    spent two years in prison without trial. In April 2004 he was sentenced
    to four years' imprisonment, to be served at his home.
    AI country reports/visits
    Reports

    • Cuba: Fundamental freedoms still under attack (AI Index: AMR 25/001/2006)

    • Cuba: Fear for safety/Fear of torture/intimidation/harassment – Miguel
    Valdés Tamayo and Juan Carlos González Leiva (AI Index: AMR 25/002/2006)
    Visits

    AI last visited Cuba in 1988 and has not been allowed into the country
    since.

    http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/Regions/Americas/Cuba

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