Cubalex Condemns the Wave of Threats, Coercion, and Psychological Torture Against Independent Journalists in Cuba

Cubalex, 9 September 2022 — We at Cubalex condemn and view with concern the threats and coercions against young journalists who work for independent media outlets in Cuba. We remind the Cuban state that it should abstain from any act which constitutes torture and mistreatment through is institutions and agents, which are absolutely prohibited in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, [and] the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The public resignations are not spontaneous. They all contain expressions such as, “Under pressure and blackmail we find ourselves forced to cease our project,” “I am leaving because they are forcing me,” “I will not be allowed to leave the country until certain conditions demanded by State Security are met.” The fragments above demonstrate pressure by State Security agents for them to stop exercising their profession as independent journalists, an act of censorship and a violation of freedoms of expression, opinion and press.

Thus, the Cuban authorities are committing the crimes of abuse of power and torture described in the Criminal Code, when they provoke mental suffering, intimidate, and coerce journalists in order to obtain a confession, information, a resignation from their workplace, and punish them for exercising their profession; this is contrary to the principle of nondiscrimination. It is worth noting that torture is typified as a crime in the Criminal Code which was approved on September 1, 2022 by the National Assembly of the People’s Power, but which has not yet gone into effect.

Some of these journalists have alleged that they resigned not only for their own mental health and that of their family, but also because they do not want to compromise their right to freedom of movement, especially the right to leave the country.

“I’m leaving because they are obligating me. They are forcing me to leave El Toque and not work for another alternative outlet, and therefore, stow my degree under a mattress. Faced with that greater force, which right now is putting in check my right to leave the country and my wellbeing, I prefer to put my freedom and my personal and family dreams first.”

“I’m leaving because, selfishly and cowardly, I prioritize my mental health and the wellbeing of my family. I’m leaving so I will have the right to freedom of movement. I’m leaving because I do not want to see my grandmother’s high blood pressure through the roof again, nor my father’s tears, nor my mother’s depression. I’m leaving because I am putting my future and my dreams of a better and more free life first,” wrote two of the journalists.

The state violates the right to freedom of movement described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in the Cuban constitution, specifically, the right to leave the country.

It is a systematic and generalized practice for state agents to use investigation processes described in the Law of Criminal Procedures, such as citations and interrogations, and to repress, threaten, and torture these people. That is, they take advantage of discretion implicit in the norms to apply them arbitrarily.

Threats are another crime in the criminal law which applies to authorities who force citizens to limit themselves from carrying out activities that are not prohibited by law and which are recognized as constitutional rights such as: the right to work, freedom of the press and speech, the right to human dignity, and free development of one’s personality.

The principle of the law has been violated and those responsible enjoy impunity because the state does not carry out its international obligation to investigate, judge, and apply sanction that would guarantee these human rights violations are not repeated. A misapplication of the criminal law by the state is also evident, when its agents threaten journalists with applying the new Criminal Code, which is not even in effect yet.

When a journalist is prevented from working, not only is freedom of the press being violated, but also all of society’s right to information.

This entry, Cubalex Condemns the Wave of Threats, Coercion, and Psychological Torture Against Independent Journalists in Cuba, first appeared in Spanish on the Cubalex website.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

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