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    DESPITE REFORM TO MIGRATION LAW, CUBA CONTINUES TO RESTRICT FREEDOMS OF EXPRESSION, ASSOCIATION AND ASSEMBLY AND TO HOLD PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE

    DOCUMENT – CUBA:
    DESPITE REFORM TO MIGRATION LAW, CUBA CONTINUES TO RESTRICT FREEDOMS OF
    EXPRESSION, ASSOCIATION AND ASSEMBLY AND TO HOLD PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE
    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
    PUBLIC STATEMENT
    AI Index: AMR 25/007/2013
    20 September 2013

    Despite reform to migration law, Cuba continues to restrict freedoms of
    expression, association and assembly and to hold prisoners of conscience
    Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcome on Cuba
    Amnesty International welcomes many of the recommendations made to Cuba.
    Although a large number of states took part in the review, only a few of
    them expressed concerns about the continued denial of fundamental civil
    and political rights in the country, as during Cuba’s first Universal
    Periodic Review.
    Amnesty International regrets that Cuba has rejected recommendations
    aimed at improving respect for the rights to freedom of expression,
    association and assembly. While reform to the migration law which
    entered into force in January 2013 as a positive step, which have
    facilitated travel abroad for Cubans, including human rights defenders
    and government critics, the organization shares concerns, expressed
    during the review, that peaceful demonstrators, independent journalists
    and human rights activists continue to be routinely harassed, detained
    and also sentenced for exercising their rights to freedom of expression,
    association and assembly. Amnesty International counters assertions made
    by Cuba during the Working Group session that the judiciary is
    independent, that freedom of the press is guaranteed, and that arbitrary
    detention is not practised. The organization has documented many cases
    which would strongly challenge these assertions.
    The organization also regrets Cuba’s rejection of recommendations to
    repeal or amend legislation that criminalizes the legitimate exercise of
    freedom of expression, association and assembly, such as Article 72 of
    the Penal Code (“dangerousness”) and other legal provisions which breach
    international human rights law. It is also disappointing that Cuba was
    unable to agree to release prisoners held solely for exercising their
    rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
    Other recommendations related to improved respect for civil and
    political rights fall within the category of recommendations which Cuba
    has “taken note of” and which it considers are being addressed or will
    continue to be examined. These include recommendations calling for full
    judicial guarantees and fair trials, in accordance with international
    human rights standards. Cuba goes on to state that it has
    institutionalized a system of independent courts and that its
    legislation ensures fair and impartial hearings and full guarantees to
    the accused. However, this is patently contradicted by the continuing
    use in Cuba of trials which do not meet international standards of fairness.
    Amnesty International is disappointed that Cuba felt unable to ratify
    key human rights instruments, including the International Covenants on
    Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and on Economic, Social and Cultural
    Rights (ICESCR), both of which Cuba signed in March 2008.
    While these recommendations were not outright rejected, Amnesty
    International is concerned that four and a half years on from its first
    review, Cuba continues to state that it needs to carry out consultations
    and legal analyses before it can move to ratification of these key human
    rights instruments. Similarly, regarding recommendations to invite UN
    Special Rapporteurs, Cuba has stated its willingness to cooperate with
    UN human rights representatives,$ which it had also declared in 2009,
    but not implemented. Amnesty International therefore urges Cuba to
    immediately act on its stated willingness by extending an open
    invitation to UN Special Procedures.
    Amnesty International welcomes that no death sentence has been carried
    out since 2003 and that no one has been held on death row since the end
    of 2010. It is therefore disappointing that Cuba remains unable to
    accept recommendations calling for the abolition of the death penalty.
    The organization urges Cuba to reconsider its decision and to join the
    global trend towards abolition.
    Independent journalist and prisoner of conscience Calixto Ramón Martínez
    Arias was released on 9 April after spending almost seven months in
    prison without charge. However, according to information available to
    Amnesty International, at least six prisoners of conscience are
    currently in detention, imprisoned solely for expressing their
    conscientiously held beliefs:
    Alexeis Vargas Martín and his 17 year-old twin brothers Diango and
    Vianco Vargas Martín, all members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, were
    held without charge for nine months before being accused on trumped-up
    charges of “public disorder” at the end of August 2013.
    Emilio Planas Robert and Rafael Matos Montes de Oca were found guilty of
    peligrosidad (“dangerousness” or “special proclivity to commit crimes”)
    following summary trials in October 2012 and sentenced to
    three-and-a-half and two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, respectively.
    Iván Fernández Depestre, member of the Movimiento Opositor Juventud
    Despierta (Opposition Movement Awake Youth), was also found guilty of
    “dangerousness” and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment following a
    summary trial in August 2013.
    Amnesty International urges Cuba to immediately and unconditionally
    release these individuals and others arrested solely for exercising
    their right to freedom of expression.
    Background
    The UN Human Rights Council adopted the outcome of the Universal
    Periodic Review of Cuba on 20 September 2013 during its 24th session.
    Prior to the adoption of the review outcome, Amnesty International
    delivered the oral statement above.
    Amnesty International had earlier submitted information on the situation
    of human rights in Cuba:
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/027/2012/en/c232142f-3dba-41af-b196-02718ffa5a43/amr250272012en.pdf
    Public Document
    International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London
    WC1X 0DW, UK www.amnesty.org
    ****************************************
    - Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review,
    A/HRC/24/16, 8 July 2013, paragraphs 170.171 (Hungary); 170.172 (Spain);
    170.173. (Switzerland); 170.177 (France); 170.179 (Canada).
    - Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review,
    A/HRC/24/16, 8 July 2013, paragraph 108.
    - Ibid., paragraph 111.
    - Ibid., paragraph 152.
    - Ibid., paragraph 170.174 (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
    Ireland); 170.175 (Ireland); 170.176 (United States of America)
    - Ibid., 170.184 (Poland)
    - Ibid.
    - A/HRC/24/16, 170.159 (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
    Ireland); 170.160 (Austria); paragraph 170.161 (Canada);
    - A/HRC/24/16/Add.1, paragraph 6
    - A/HRC/24/16, paragraphs 170.4 (Chile, Hungary, Estonia, Romania,
    Maldives, Australia, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Japan, Slovenia,
    Montenegro, France, Tunisia, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Czech
    Republic, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Japan,
    Switzerland, Finland, Czech Republic); 170.5 (Sweden); Montenegro,
    Estonia; 170.8 Netherlands
    - A/HRC/24/16/Add.1, paragraph 6
    - /HRC/24/16., paragraphs 170.5 (Sweden); 170.106 (Sierra Leone);
    170.111 (Spain); 170.112 (Mexico); 170.113 (Chile).
    - A/HRC/24/16/Add.1, paragraph 6

    Source: “Document – Cuba: Despite reform to migration law, Cuba
    continues to restrict freedoms of expression, association and assembly
    and to hold prisoners of conscience | Amnesty International” –
    http://amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/007/2013/en/0311bf31-9160-4086-9e52-21900d4a5627/amr250072013en.html

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