Saturday, April 20, 2013

U.S.: Short-term detentions in Cuba reach record levels

Posted on Friday, 04.19.13

U.S.: Short-term detentions in Cuba reach record levels
By Juan O. Tamayo

Cuba saw a record number of "politically motivated and at times violent
short-term detentions" during 2012, according to the U.S. State
Department's "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices," which was
released Friday.

The report noted serious violations in all categories from prison abuses
to labor and religious rights, with few apparent changes from 2011.

Cuba is "an authoritarian state," it noted, the recent round of
elections was "neither free nor fair" and domestic security forces
"reported to a national leadership that included members of the military."

"The principal human rights abuses were: abridgment of the right of
citizens to change the government; government threats, intimidation,
mobs, harassment, and detentions to prevent free expression and peaceful
assembly; and a record number of politically motivated and at times
violent short-term detentions," according to the report.

Other abuse included "unlawful use of force, harsh prison conditions,
arbitrary arrests, selective prosecution, and denial of fair trial.
Authorities interfered with privacy and engaged in pervasive monitoring
of private communications.

"The government did not respect freedom of speech and the press;
severely restricted Internet access and maintained a monopoly on media
outlets; circumscribed academic freedoms; limited freedom of movement;
and maintained significant restrictions on the ability of religious
groups to meet and worship.

"The government refused to recognize independent human rights groups or
permit them to function legally. In addition, the government continued
to prevent workers from forming independent unions and abrogated
workers' rights."

The report said that "most human rights abuses were official acts
committed at the direction of the government" and "impunity for the
perpetrators remained widespread."

The report mentions the death of dissident Oswaldo Payá, killed in a
disputed car crash last year, in the section titled "Arbitrary or
Unlawful Deprivation of Life."

"There were no reports that the government or its agents committed
arbitrary or unlawful killings," it noted, adding, that Payá's family
has "called for an independent investigation into the July 22 car crash
in which Payá and fellow dissident Harold Cepero were killed, alleging
that their car was being pursued by state security. The government
blamed the incident on the driver of Payá's vehicle.""

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