Pro Press Freedom Association Denounces Arrests, Confiscations and Threats Against Journalists

The independent journalist Osmel Ramírez Álvarez. (HavanaTimes)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 July 2018 — Arrests, confiscations and threats are some of the attacks against journalists reported by the Pro Press Freedom Association (APLP) in its most recent report, covering the month of June and made public this Monday. The text details a dozen attacks but warns that “the possibility of the existence of others is real.”

The release of the report of the APLP, an independent organization that monitors the state of press freedom on the island, coincides with the closing of the 10th Congress of the Cuban Journalists Union (UPEC), an event where the new information policy that will govern in the country will be delineated.

In this context, reporters not affiliated with the official media are taking the brunt of the repression and the confiscation of the equipment and supplies they use to perform their work, a theme that was not addressed during the sessions of the official meeting, where 267 delegates from across the country met.

The APLP denounces cases such as that of reporter Carlos Torres Fleites, contributor to news website Cubanet and to this newspaper, who was “arrested on the street by agents of the National Revolutionary Police and the political police (State Security) after interviewing residents of Calle Real, Santa Clara.”

During an arbitrary detention, Torres Fleites was interrogated, “forced to be without clothes” in the cells and the police confiscated his mobile phone, the journalist’s main tool to do his work.

A similar situation was experienced by Osmel Ramírez Álvarez, a Havana Times contributor, who was detained at a police station for three days in retaliation for his work as an independent journalist.

In Guantánamo, the home of Niorbe García Fournier, a journalist with the agency Hablemos Press, was raided by the police and the reporter was threatened with “going to prison for espionage and for spreading false information that threatens international peace.”

The report also includes attacks against contributors to Palenque Visión, the Cuban Institute of Freedom of Expression and Press (ICLEP) and La Hora de Cuba. Its pages include a complaint about the police citation received last June 27 by the president of the APLP, José Antonio Fornaris.

The APLP’s report is consistent with the data published by international organizations and the warnings they have issued about the constant attacks on press freedom by the Cuban authorities.

Last April the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) placed Cuba in 172nd place, of 180 nations, in terms of press freedom. The country was the lowest rated in the continent.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) also denounced, in its latest report presented in Colombia last April, that the Cuban government seeks “a dumb, deaf, and blind country” with regards to communication, journalism, and the internet.

It is “an increasingly difficult goal,” the IAPA said, for “journalists and independent media to persevere and not cease their work despite the restrictions.”


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