14ymedio, Havana, 17 October 2018 – The arrest of biologist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola was arbitrary according to the report prepared by the United Nations (UN) Working Group dedicated to this matter. The document asks the Government of Cuba to grant him “adequate reparations,” including immediate unconditional release.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that the arrest of Ruiz Urquiola contravened up to three articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and asks Havana to take “the necessary measures” to solve “without delay” the case “in accordance with the relevant international standards.”
The reports prepared by this UN body are intended to define whether an arbitrary detention is in accordance with the standards of international law and make recommendations to governments who may or may not take them into consideration.
The document, which has already been sent to Havana, will be published in full in the coming weeks, but the information was released by the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), which describes it as a “strong setback” for the government in a press release from the organization based in Madrid.
The UN document asks the Cuban government to present, within six months, information on whether it has guaranteed the unconditional release of the scientist, if compensation has been granted, if it has investigated the violation of his rights and approved legislative amendments that achieve “harmonization of the laws and practices of the government with its international obligations.”
Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, who continues his project in Viñales (Pinar del Río) after been released an “extrapenal license,” which means he can be returned to prison at any time, denounces having received pressure and threats from the State Security to return to Havana and affirms that the government of Cuba “is unable to compensate for all the damage” that it has caused him.
The scientist was sentenced to one year in jail for disrespect after an altercation with officials, but has always argued that his case was due to a government plan to destroy his ecological project.
During his career, the biologist had repeatedly denounced the damage to the Cuban ecosystem, such as the indiscriminate felling of trees, the hunting of endangered species and the dumping of toxic substances in the waters of the valley of Viñales.
His family, moreover, has affirmed that it is about revenge on the family, since the father, Máximo Omar Ruiz Matoses, was a high official of the Cuban army and served 17 years in prison for opposing the regime.
Ariel Ruiz Urquiola received help from organizations such as Amnesty International and well-known personalities such as the Bishop of Pinar del Rio, Jorge Serpa, and even the troubadour Silvio Rodríguez, who asked that the case be analyzed with “maturity and dialogue.” “I am going to live my life as a social and honest being, which is what I am,” Ruiz Urquiola said after learning about the UN decision.
Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.