Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dissident lawyers file complaints against Cuban police

Posted on Monday, 11.26.12

Dissident lawyers file complaints against Cuban police
Lawyers in Cuba are seeking punishment for police who allegedly abused
By Juan O. Tamayo

In an unusual legal challenge to the Cuban government, dissident lawyers
have filed a formal complaint against State Security agents for the
"arbitrary" and violent arrests of opposition activists earlier this month.

The complaint submitted last week to a provincial Havana court asks
prosecutors to condemn the detentions and impose "disciplinary measures
for the damages caused" on those responsible.

Laritza Diversent, one of the four lawyers who signed the document, said
it was designed to "exercise our right to complain," which is guaranteed
by the Cuban constitution and international human rights agreements that
Havana has signed.

Also signing the complaint were lawyers Yaremis Flores, Bárbara Estrabao
and Veizant Boloy and activist Ailer González. She is the partner of
Antonio G. Rodiles, director of two dissident projects that have gained
recognition in recent months.

They were all part of a group of dissidents arrested in Havana Nov. 7-8.
Police freed most of them but are still holding Rodiles, who heads the
de Estado de Sats project for intellectual freedoms and the Citizens
Demand for Another Cuba, which focuses on human rights.

The complaint alleged that State Security agents who arrested the
dissidents did not identify themselves and used unnecessary violence,
especially against Rodiles. A cellphone photo taken in jail showed him
with a black eye.

State Security agents violated the "principles for the protection of all
people under any form of detention or prison," the complaint noted. It
said State Security agents refused to tell most relatives of those
detained where they were being held.

Meanwhile, Angel Santiesteban-Prats, a well-known Havana author who was
detained several times, published an open letter to Cuban leader Raúl
Castro demanding Rodiles' release.

"We have the unquestioned right to elect, disagree, join groups, express
ourselves, decide what is most necessary for the Cuban nation and its
future," Santiesteban-Prats wrote.

Cuban dissidents historically haven't taken their complaints to the
country's courts, knowing that they are tightly controlled by the
executive branch and the ruling Communist Party. But a few cases have
cropped up in recent years.

Diversent said she filed a similar complaint against arbitrary
detentions in August. The court has not yet ruled, but under the
island's legal system, judges have until Nov. 28 to issue an initial reply.

Havana blogger Yoani Sánchez filed an administrative appeal with the
Interior Ministry this summer demanding an explanation of why it never
replied to her 2010 request for permission to travel abroad.

Dissident lawyer Wilfredo Vallín won his 2009 lawsuit against the
Justice Ministry to force a reply to his initial effort to legally
register the Cuban Juridical Association, a group of attorneys dedicated
to assisting individual Cuban citizens with legal issues. He is now
appealing the ministry's reply that the association cannot be registered.


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