The U.N. Covenants on Human Rights: A New Crime In Cuba? / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

As we have seen, there seems to be a new offense under the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Act (LPP), a “crime” that seems interesting to analyze with regards to what it might mean to the future.

And I begin this analysis with what — over so many years — has been understood to be a CRIME and when it does and doesn’t exist.

People like the Italian Cesare Bonesana, Marquis of Beccaria, with his famous book On Crimes and Punishment published in 1764, and the well-regarded author German Paul Johann von Feuerbach who, in 1813, issued the famous legal maxim Nullun crime, nulla poena sine praevia lege (“No crime, no punishment, without a previous punishment law”), gave a sharp twist to what was then called “criminal law.”

Those words of Feuerbach, translated into our language and brought to the present, mean that “for a person to be arrested for certain behavior, it is essential that their conduct is registered as a crime in the Penal Code prior to its commission. Otherwise, there is no crime. ”

Of course, in the case of an infraction, (I repeat, previously defined and sanctioned by law) it proceeds from the arrest of the person and taking him to a police station to clarify the facts… but I am referring to the violation of a REAL criminal standard, not an invention.

The Criminal Procedure Act explains, as the name suggests, the ways in which the authorities and the law enforcement agents can respond to criminal behavior.

Thus, in Title IV, Chapter I, Articles 241-244 of Cuba’s criminal statutes it states, clearly, the cases where an individual shall be arrested and, precisely by being defined in it, the principle of legality applies to everyone and we are subject to it without exception.

To detain someone, except in cases established by law, and inventing, for that purpose, “offenses” that do not exist in the Penal Code or situations not falling under the Criminal Procedure Act, is simply to invade a sphere that belongs only to the legislative body, which in the Cuban case is called, as far as we know, the National Assembly of People’s Power.

And that is precisely what happens when a citizen is taken to a police unit and there is no Act of Detention, or he is taken and what is written as justification for his arrest is … “Interest of CI (counterintelligence ),” a reason for detention that does not appear at all where it should be mandatory: in the aforementioned Penal Code.

We can not give legitimacy to bodies that take on a function that is not theirs and which is so important for social relations: the creation of law.

Moreover, lawyers for the Cuban Law Association have never seen a legal prohibition stating that the behavior of citizens urging the government to ratify the U.N. Covenants signed by a Cuban representative four years ago in New York City, is an offense of any kind.

But, as might occur with the regulations for whether to grant an exit permit — the so-called “white card” — to citizens who want to leave the country and that we have never seen, perhaps it is in these Covenants which we still cannot read.

If so, then please publish it so that we citizens will know that, in Cuba, there is a new conduct prohibited by law: that of invoking the UN Covenants.

September 10 2012