Human Rights Group Reports the ‘Young Man With the Placard’ is at Serious Risk in a Cuban Prison

“The young man with the placard” remains incarcerated in the prison of the Combinado del Este. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 11 August 2022 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a resolution in which it considers the situation of Cuban opponent Luis Robles as “at serious risk.” Robles, known as “the young man with the placard,” was arrested in December 2020 for demanding the release of musician Denis Solís, on San Rafael Boulevard in Havana.

In the document, the IACHR, an organization belonging to the Organization of American States, describes several precautionary measures that are necessary to protect the rights and integrity of the imprisoned.

“He continues to be deprived of liberty in the circumstances described and may be further denied his rights,” adds the Commission, which proposes that the 29-year-old inmate get access to adequate medical care and receive medicines for his chronic gastritis. In addition, his relatives and lawyers must be allowed to visit him in prison.

The Commission asks that some “alternative to the deprivation of his liberty” be evaluated and that action be taken against the threats and harassment suffered by Robles in the Combinado del Este prison, in Havana, where he is serving a five-year sentence for the crimes of enemy propaganda and disobedience.

The Cuban State must inform the Commission within 15 days if it has adopted the proposed precautionary measures; however, since the organization Prisoners Defenders, based in Madrid, initiated this request, there has been no government response on the case.

Among the background and reports that the Commission used to document its resolution were the contributions of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations, which asked the Cuban State to release Robles “immediately” during its 91st session.

Returning to the complaint of Prisoners Defenders, the Commission reported that Robles has been held incommunicado with his family and that he survives in “inhuman conditions.” It adds that on February 12, 2021, Robles asked for medicines and that “they didn’t give them to him so that he could just die there.” In addition, he has suffered beatings by State Security agents during his detention. The document also reports that “the young man with the placard” remained naked and slept on the floor for two nights, in punishment cells, on the orders of the prison authorities.

“The Commission considers that the proposed beneficiary, deprived of liberty since December 2020 after a demonstration on public roads, would be in severe conditions of detention in the Combinado del Este prison and has not received access to the necessary medicines for his chronic illness to date, after 1 year and 8 months of detention,” the resolution states.

In June, Yindra Elizastigui, Robles’ mother, reported that her son has been maltreated constantly, such as being photographed without clothes, against his will.

The mother, after filing the relevant complaints at the request of the Ministry of the Interior, received as a response from the regime that the photographs were taken for “an investigation into a newspaper report saying that Luis Robles had been beaten,” so they took those images “to show the world that my son had no traces on his body of physical abuse.”

On July 23, Robles’ mother revealed that the head of the prison unit where her son is being held said that he will not be granted the benefit of “the minimum,” that is, the transfer to a labor camp upon serving a year and three months of sentence. “Given that he has not behaved well, because he has made some calls abroad denouncing the abuses to which he has been subjected,” she reported on Facebook.

Yindra Elizastigui has filed complaints about violations of the rights of prisoners and recalls that Luis Robles is the father of a two-year-old boy. “They love to remind the prisoners that they must fulfill their duties, but they forget that they also have rights.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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