Monday, June 24, 2013

Discrimination in Accessing Justice

Discrimination in Accessing Justice / Lilianne Ruiz
Posted on June 24, 2013

"Are you going to tell me that the State has more rights over my
grandchildren than I do, I who have raised them since they were born?"
was the response of Reina Ruiz Perez to the prosecutor, the day she
tried to make her case for adoption before the Havana Provincial Court.

Later, frustrated by the neglect, she warned the representative of
authority of her desire to undertake a public protest and ended up
detained for the umpteenth time in her life.

The prosecutor had suggested that "after the death of the mother,
custody goes to the father. If the father doesn't want them, (the
children) go to the State."

In 2010, after the death of her daughter, this grandmother started to
sue for legal custody of her grandchildren; the fathers of both minors
have to objection at all in ceding custody to the maternal grandmother,
and in practice don't take care of them."

"The children have been living with me since they were born, but there
are no legal procedures I can undertake to bring it formalize it," said
Ruiz Perez.

The Cuban courts "have denied (the grandmother) access to justice,"
Cubalex attorney Laritza Diversent points out, when consulted on the
matter. "In Cuba adoption is processed through a record of voluntary
jurisdiction; this means it's a matter of particular interest. In these
cases the procedural law authorized going forward without legal
representation. In other words, the grandmothers are legally authorized
to adopt their grandchildren."

Ruiz Perez also tells us that since the '90s, when she became active in
the non-violent opposition to the Cuban dictatorship, she has faced
great abuse, which has included being imprisoned without a trial in the
women's prison known as "Manto Negro" (Black Robe); along with
innumerable detentions in Police Stations to try to block her protest
activities. Many of these arrests occurred within sight of her three
children, and at least once she was taken the Police Station with her
youngest daughter in tow.

"I went to the Calabazar Station up to four times a week," the
grandmother reports. "Once they locked me up in the Station Chief's
office with my youngest daughter, until the official 'in charge of
minors' came looking for the Station Chief. When she opened the door and
saw the girl sleeping in my lap, she was shocked because it wasn't even
8:00 in the morning, which betrayed that we had spent the night locked
up there."

With a long history of harassment and political persecution, at age 53
Reina Ruiz Perez has obtained a visa to live as a refugee in the United
States. The problem lies in the fact that the Cuban State, so far, has
not allowed her to take assume legal representation for her
grandchildren. In practice, she has been the only one who has taken on
the care of the minors, who have lived in her house since they were
born, where they get a pension — their mother having been a State worker
— which amounts to 100 Cuban pesos per child (the equivalent of $4.00
USD a month).

This legal impediment means that the children haven't been able to
obtain the documentation to travel with her to the United States.

After hiring a lawyer Ruiz Perez was not able to complete the adoption;
as it says in the case file, "The process contracted on 29 August 2012
was shelved indefinitely." Later, following the recommendations offered
by Cubalex — the legal information center — covered in the articles of
the law that authorize it, she presented a brief to the Court to
activate the adoption proceedings herself, but the Court refused to
recognize the procedure.

The last time State Security visited Mrs. Ruiz Perez, the agents who
presented themselves as "from Immigration" expressed "concern" for the
situation of the children, and argued that it wasn't the Cuban
government that was "holding things up," but "your American government
that doesn't want to give them the visa."

But it's not only the political police that has expressed that argument.

According to what is also stated in the case file, the president of the
Boyeros Court "treated Ruiz Perez disrespectfully" and said that "it is
the fault of the American that they aren't allowed to leave, not the
president of the Court's, and that there no adoption is accepted."

One wonders what is the objective of refusing the grandmother in
question the ability to complete the adoption as established.

In maintaining this situation the Cuban State is violating the
Convention of the Rights of the Child, which demands that the best
interest of the children always be considered.

21 June 2013

Source: "Discrimination in Accessing Justice / Lilianne Ruiz |
Translating Cuba" -

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