Considerations on Cuba of the Committee Against Torture / Cubalex

Cubalex, 22 April 2022 — A Transcription of a Presentation by Sébastien Touze before the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

Confidence in the national police has declined, you might agree with me, you have not denied it since the events of July 2021. This episode of demonstrations offered an alarming vision, as there were a large number of arrests, some NGOs even spoke of hundreds of protesters arrested, among them political opponents such as José Daniel Ferrer, and artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. There are issues that could be referred to as arbitrary detentions or secret detentions, for example the case of Denis Solís.

The working group tried, the group on arbitrary detentions handled his case, and that very working group stated that the arrest of Denis Solís was carried out by three police officers without an arrest warrant, without any explanation, and with violence. Furthermore, he was taken by police car and received a beating from the three police officers. Also, he was detained in secret from the evening of November 9th until the morning of November 11th.

Detained in secret, he was denied the possibility of challenging his detention before a judge and he was not allowed to contact his attorneys or to receive legal aid, which deprived him of his right to an effective defense. Once in the police commissary, he suffered cruel and degrading treatment, was humiliated, was beaten with a military boot and was forced to say, “Long live the revolution,” and the government has not denied that, and they blatantly violated articles 2 and 16 of our convention.

The issue with the arbitrary detention and the detention in secret is an issue that, for various claims, is somewhat persistent and recurring in Cuba. The working group that I mentioned has issued different opinions on cases of arbitrary detentions in Cuba and concluded that many cases, were not only arbitrary detentions, but also other violations of international human rights law, especially through acts of torture.

Thus, the repression of dissent seems to continue. The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an NGO not officially recognized by the authorities, has documented 8616 arrests in 2015, 9940 in 2016, which, well, is a statistic which I will allow you to comment on.

Furthermore, we do not foresee any conditions for placing someone in preventive detention. For this reason, it can result in holding anyone, provisionally, if allowed by law. This fault in Cuban law results in allowing or recurring arbitrary detentions on a large scale, as reflected by several NGOs and civil society sources.

It has to do with the practice of detentions to prevent a person from reaching a particular location, for example, to participate in a demonstration, there could be preventive and repressive measures without a legal basis, which allows preventive detention without judicial context.

After the arrests of July 2021, 55 minors were detained. Many currently remain in detention. According to testimonies of the Cuban press, there have been parents who do not even know the jail where their children are held. Thus, there is an error in the information communicated to loved ones about the arrest.

We have received other reports which state, well, there is even one non-governmental organization which has a list of all the arrests and the reason for the arrest each month, and based on a published graph, the committee observed a massive use of arrests of political opponents. A practice which has existed for years, but the following issues are presented here:

With regard to repression and the legal framework, the norms which could be applied here, the analysis of the arrests in the Cuban system highlights a solid legal framework used by authorities to carry out political repression against some political and cultural opponents. Before presenting the details of this policy, the committee wishes to refer to some of these provisions, without intending to be exhaustive.

In the framework of the constitution, artistic freedom and freedom of the press are targets of the main limitations, as these are conditioned upon respect for socialist values and respect for the law and objectives of society. Article 55 of the current Cuban Criminal Code contains a series of provisions that allow the criminalization of citizens who oppose, in one form or another, the system established in article 100 of the criminal code. Regarding sedition, it allows repression of various behaviors, which include interfering with or disturbing the socialist order and those who refuse to obey a decision of a public official and finally those who refuse to perform their duties.

In addition, Cuban law imposes a penalty of one to eight years in jail for inciting propaganda against the social order or the socialist state. Such treatment is reserved for those who spread erroneous news intended to provoke discontent among the population or to cause public disturbances.

This seems to result in a certain cultural censorship. Also, artistic freedom and cultural opponents are viewed as especially affected by article 203 which condemns common threats of danger in public places, shows or during assemblies.

These articles have in common the use of low nations as the socialist order, the definition of which I have requested. The public disturbances, threats of common danger, propaganda, terms which they can orchestrate and is done to further repress people they believe are carrying out these activities.

The committee believes it important to highlight that these impressions, which are contrary to the universal judicial principle of the clarity of criminal law and clears a path to decisions that could be classified as arbitrary.

The authorities, or rather, those responsible for the national revolutionary police and the department of state security, frequently jail militants to prevent them from participating in public demonstrations or private meetings, to exercise their right to freedom of expression, association, assembly and movement.

Here, the committee can only express its worry at the the lack of respect for the fundamental, primordial rights of freedom of expression, association, assembly and movement to the extent that they were rights not covered by our commission, the actions of some state authorities in the framework of repression against these people, ended up with measures blatantly contrary to the convention against torture.


This entry, first appeared on Cubalex as Consideraciones del Comité contra la Tortura Sobre Cuba.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez