Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cuba tells the U.N. it does not torture or abuse human rights

Posted on Wednesday, 05.23.12

Cuba tells the U.N. it does not torture or abuse human rights

Cuban officials told a U.N. panel on torture that all complaints of
mistreatment were false
By Juan O. Tamayo

The Cuban government put up a stout defense before a U.N. panel on
torture Wednesday, denying "each and every" complaint of mistreatment
but delicately parsing its words when it came to other alleged abuses.

Cuba has no illegal detention centers and no prison overcrowding, and
not one prison death can be blamed on authorities, a Cuban delegation
told the U.N. Committee Against Torture at a hearing in Geneva, Switzerland.

The denials coincided with the release of a report by human rights
organization Amnesty International that accused Cuba's government of
massive abuses, including arresting, harassing and intimidating hundreds
of peaceful dissidents.

Deputy Attorney General Rafael Pino led the delegation that appeared
before the panel to answer tough questions it posed Tuesday on Cuba's
compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Cubans answered few of the committee's specific questions, according
to a report on Wednesday's session posted on the Internet by the U.N.
Information Service in Geneva. The report, "Committee Against Torture
hears replies of Cuba," had disappeared from the service's web pages by
Wednesday evening.

Copies of the report showed the Cubans provided no specific details on
the deaths of dissidents Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Wilman Villar or Juan
Wilfredo Soto, for instance, and did not mention the Ladies in White or
blogger Yoani Sánchez.

Instead, they mounted a broad defense of Cuba's human rights record and
dismissed some complaints as the work of the U.S. government "and the
mercenaries who worked for it."

"Each and every complaint brought to the committee on supposed torture
or mistreatment was false," the delegation said. And there's no
overcrowding in the country's prisons, it said.

The Cubans said courts sentenced 46 law enforcement agents to one to
eight years over prison abuses.

Neither neglect nor actions by law enforcement officials caused any
prison deaths, according to the delegation. There were 113 deaths in
prisons and hospital lockups in 2010 and 89 in 2011 — mostly the result
of illnesses, fights or accidents.

The Amnesty International report noted that in 2011 Cuba released the
last of the 75 peaceful dissidents jailed in a 2003 crackdown, and 62
other political prisoners as part of an agreement with the Catholic
Church. But the majority freed were forced to go into exile, it said,
and the government continued to deny Cubans the right to free expression
and association and to control all the mass media.

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