Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cuba: The State of Human Rights

Cuba: The State of Human Rights
Posted 26 May 2012 19:35 GMT
Written byJanine Mendes-Franco
Countries Cuba

The recent request for information by the United Nations' Committee
Against Torture with regard to alleged human rights abuses in Cuba has
got bloggers talking.

Diaspora blogger Uncommon Sense said that despite the fact that "the
United Nations has far from a pristine history when it comes to holding
the Castro dictatorship accountable for its 50-plus years of
repression…the UN's Committee Against Torture deserves applause…" Why,
exactly? For causing the Cuban government to deny that anyone "has been
persecuted or sanctioned for exercising their rights, including those of
free expression and association" - to which the blogger responded:

No one, except the thousands of political prisoners, past and
present, who have languished in the Castro gulag because they exercised
the rights given to them by God.
No one, except the activists who every day risk what little liberty
they enjoy to ensure that one day they and their successors enjoy those
rights freely.
No one, except those Cubans, like Zapata and Villar, who were
permanently silenced, who were murdered by the Castro regime because of
the threat that they, and their commitment to those rights, posed to the
dictatorship's survival.
That one of the dictatorship's flunkies would stand before the
world and deny the undeniable, is evidence enough that whatever action
the UN takes against Cuba as result of the latest inquiry, the Castros
live in fear that their time is up.

The Cuban government's position is at loggerheads with two different
reports, one by the U.S. State Department and the other by Amnesty
International, about the human rights situation on the island. Havana
Times blogged about Amnesty's findings, reporting that:

According to Amnesty, the Cuban government continued its
'repression' on freedom of expression, association and assembly with
hundreds of arrests and brief detentions, although it freed the last 11
prisoners of conscience who had been held since 2003, as well as another
62 'political prisoners,' some of whom had been in jail since the 1990s.

The NGO human rights defender, which hasn't been allowed to enter
the country since 1990, also expressed its opposition to the US embargo
and highlighted the negative impact the measure has on the health of the
Cuban population, especially marginalized groups.

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter, meanwhile, addressed "two (of the
many) misstatements by the Castro regime at the Committee Against Torture":

First false statement, the claim that "the persons mentioned in
these questions and the rest of the list of questions are supposed
'human rights defenders', do not qualify as established in the The
Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the General Assembly of
the United Nations" on December 9, 1998 citing article 3.

The Cuban Black Spring of 2003 in which the majority of the
organizers of the Varela Project, an initiative that sought to reform
the current Cuban constitution to bring it into line with international
human rights obligations, were imprisoned and sentenced in summary
trials to up to 28 years in prison for engaging in a legal right
recognized by the Constitution. The claims made by Rafael Pino Bécquer
are demonstrated as patently false by the above mentioned crackdown and
the numerous cases of dissidents being imprisoned with the sole purpose
of the dictatorship enforcing political conformity.

Second false statement, the regime's representative claims that the
facts have been misrepresented in order to serve a shadowy conspiracy.
At the same time the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture was
formally invited by the regime on January 28, 2009 and to the present
day the dictatorship has not agreed on a date for the visit.
International human rights organizations have requested permission to
visit the island and be able to study the situation on the ground to be
able to arrive at their own conclusions on the human rights situation,
but the Cuban regime has denied them all permission to visit the island.
Human rights organizations are relying on reports from human rights
groups operating inside and outside of Cuba that are slandered and
libeled by the dictatorship.

The United Nations and human rights watchdog organisations may be
waiting for answers, but diaspora bloggers continue to highlight
instances of persecution and repression.

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