UN Asks Cuba to Release and Compensate Three Opponents

Iván Amaro Hidalgo, on the left, was arrested in August 2016 wearing a shirt with the motto Democracy YES! Dictatorship NO!

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 February 2020 — The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations Human Rights Council considers that jailed Cuban opponents Josiel Guia Piloto, Marbel Mendoza Reyes and Iván Amaro Hidalgo were convicted of vague crimes and without adequate legal defense.

After learning of the cases from the  Cuban Prisoners Defenders (CPD), an NGO, and evaluating the allegations of the Government of Cuba, the agency reached these conclusions and calls on Havana to grant the activists “immediate, full freedom” and grant them “the effective right to obtain compensation and other types of reparation, in accordance with international law.”

Josiel Guia Piloto, president of the Republican Party of Cuba (which is not legally recognized), was arrested 22 times between 2011 and 2014. In 2016 he was arrested and, a year later, was convicted of “contempt and public disorder.” The UN considers it proven that the police stopped him without justification in order to “generate an exchange of words” that resulted in his arrest and prosecution “from the fabrication of a suspicion by police.”

Marbel Mendoza Reyes, of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), was charged and sentenced to two and a half years in prison for social-pre-criminal dangerousness, a crime that the Cuban government uses very regularly. According to Cuban Prisoners Defender, there are 11,000 people imprisoned in the Island under this charge, which is applied to people the government believes are involved in activities contrary to “socialist morality.”

The CPD report also alleges that Mendoza’s sentence was extended six months for an alleged crime of contempt based on the complaint of a single official, something that is allowed by law in Cuba.

Iván Amaro Hidalgo, an activist with the Pedro Luis Boitel Party for Democracy (also illegal), is the third person referenced in the report. He was arrested in August 2016 wearing a shirt with the motto Democracy YES! Dictatorship NO! and Down You Know Who. In March 2017, he was sentenced to three years in prison in a closed-door trial in which the only witness was a police officer.

The report of the Working Group questions the criminal definitions of “contempt, disorder, danger and attack, contained in the Criminal Code, they are extremely vague and lack the requirement of sufficient accuracy to provide the population with legal certainty.”

In addition, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has already asked for the elimination of the crime of pre-criminal-dangerousness from the Criminal Code, as have other NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

The document laments that it is not the first time that it has to deal with matters such as this and that “there have been no significant changes in the State justice system since the presentation of its initial report in 1997. In particular, it notes with concern the lack of independence with respect to the executive and legislative powers of both the judiciary and the role of lawyers,” it emphasizes.

The Working Group will refer these three cases to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishments, and asks Cuba to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by Cuba in 2008 but not ratified and put into practice, and to follow up on the case and the application of recommendations.

One of the requests made in the report to the authorities in Havana is “to disseminate the present opinion [in reference to the report] by all available means and as widely as possible,” although it does not seem likely that they will do so.


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