Wednesday, June 30, 2010

AI: Laws create fear of expression in Cuba

AI: Laws create fear of expression in Cuba
Published: June 30, 2010 at 12:03 PM

HAVANA, June 30 (UPI) -- Cuba's legal system has created a climate of
fear among journalists, dissidents and activists, Amnesty International
said in a report Wednesday.

The report, "Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in Cuba," highlights
provisions in Cuba's legal system and government practices that restrict
information given to media and have been used to detain and prosecute
government critics, the human-rights organization said in a release.

"The laws are so vague that almost any act of dissent can be deemed
criminal in some way, making it very difficult for activists to speak
out against the government," Kerrie Howard, deputy director for the
Americas at Amnesty International, said in the release. "There is an
urgent need for reform to make all human rights a reality for all Cubans."

The Cuban government has a virtual lock on media while demanding all
journalists join the national journalists' association, controlled by
the Communist Party, AI said. Cuban authorities also restrict access to
blogs that are openly critical of the government and places restrictions
on fundamental freedoms.

Amnesty International also said the Cuban Constitution and its penal
code run roughshod over individual rights and freedoms, creating a
climate of fear.

Cuban authorities have denied political prisoners exist in the country,
but Amnesty International said it knew of at least 53 prisoners of
conscience who are jailed for exercising their right to freedom of
expression, association and assembly.

Amnesty International calls on the Cuban government to revoke or amend
legal provisions unlawfully limiting freedom of expression, stop
harassment of dissidents, free all prisoners of conscience, and allow
the free flow of ideas and information through the Internet and other media.

"The release of all prisoners of conscience and the end of harassment of
dissidents are measures that the Cuban government must take immediately
and unconditionally," Howard said. "However, to honor its commitment to
human rights, Cuba must also dismantle the repressive machinery built up
over decades, and implement the reforms needed to make human rights a
reality for all Cubans."

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