Impartiality / Cuban Law Association

Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

Last month marked the second anniversary of the death of Laura Pollan, spokeswoman for one of Cuba’s most renowned dissident groups, the Ladies in White.

On that day, we gradually learned, many people in different parts of the country were detained, apparently because of official concern about demonstrations commemorating the anniversary.

Some of those detentions lasted for two to three days, as we learned directly from those affected.

Many of these people came to the Law Society seeking help in bringing charges against their captors for the way they had been treated.

In many countries a situation exists that has no place in Cuba: the independence of the judiciary in relation to the other branches of government.

In Cuba the police, both political and regular, belong to the executive branch, in other words to the state power. The Prosecutor’s Office (military or civilian) also belongs to the apparatus of the state (the government). The same applies to the courts.

Bringing a complaint to the Military Prosecutor to be presented before the court against the military that belongs to the same ministry, and that is also subordinate to government authority, does not seem to have much chance of success, especially when it comes to political issues.

The impartiality spoken of in Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely:

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of their rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against them.

It requires, as you can read in the underlined portion, that the court be independent and impartial; in Cuba neither of these two things exist.

We continue to use that proposition in advising those who come to us, but we must lay out the truth, even if we don’t like it.

It is not likely that these allegations will have any result because the ideological obedience of the state institutions does not allow anything else, much less the punishment of its own members for actions “against the class enemy,” that is, those who don’t think like they do.

In a perfect justice system, every citizen should have the right that we are analyzing. But a critical element does not even exist in our national courts: their impartiality.

Translated by: Tomás A.

25 November 2013