IAPA Asks for Suspension of New Cuban Penal Code Which Punishes Press Freedom

The IAPA’s declaration is consistent with the 2022 Chapultepec Index on press freedom issued by the organisation during its General Assembly. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 2 November 2022 — The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) denounced the “systematic repression of the independent press in Cuba”, in a resolution published during its 78th General Assembly in Madrid from 27 to 30 October.

The document exposes the “incessant harassment” by the Cuban government of anyone who defends freedom of the press and expression, and points out the lack of respect for foreign journalists.

The IAPA considers it urgent that the regime desists from going ahead with its new Penal Code, which will come into force on 1 December, and forsees the “categorisation of new ’crimes’, custom-made for their repressive policies”. This act will be an even further assault on the practice of independent journalism”, they add.

The denouncement was preceded by a number of considerations on the plight of independent reporters on the Island, in particular that of Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, detained in 2021 and condemned to 5 years in prison for “continuous enemy propaganda, and resistance”.

The IAPA considers that Valle Roca’s “grave state of health” is a consequence of the “severe punishment given to critics of the government”, which will only get worse with the implementation of the new Penal Code.

The organisation also mentions the extortion of journalists: agents of the Ministry of the Interior  propose an “exit from the country in exchange for a public renunciation of the independent media”;  those who refuse are prohibited from leaving the Island.

Another means of government repression is the imposition of “onerous fines” for internet or social media reporting of any events which are problematical for the government.  They say the digital sphere has become a centre for spying and censorship by the state communications company”, Etecsa.

Also, they say, “the arrest of journalists continues to be the order of the day”, a situation exemplified by the case of Camagüey reporter Henry Constantín, director of media company La Hora de Cuba and regional vice president for Cuba of the IAPA. They note also the frequency with which house arrest is practiced, and the hounding of journalists and their families.

Finally, they detail the gravity of the political and social crisis on the Island, the huge exodus of Cuban people, and the reinforcement of repressive apparatus, from the police force to the legal system and surveillance.

The IAPA declaration is consistent with the 2022 Chapultepec Index on press freedom, published by the organisation during its General Assembly, in which Cuba occupied twentieth place, near the bottom of the list, surpassed only by Venezuela and Nicaragua. The three countries are the only ones marked out as being in the category of “no freedom of expression”.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso


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