Amnesty International should add independent journalist Roberto de Jesus Quiñones to the list of prisoners of conscience. He faces one year in prison for his journalism." Did you know that in Cuba you can be jailed for a crime that seems to be taken from the film ‘Minority Report’? It's called 'pre-criminal dangerousness' an they lock you up for what you could do, for the suspicion of an action in the future. Many times, that's how political reprisals are hidden."
|Roberto de Jesus Quiñones|
For decades, Cuba has stifled freedom of expression and assembly by locking up people for their beliefs and opposition to the government. Over the years, the names of Cuba’s prisoners of conscience have changed, but the state’s tactics have stayed almost exactly the same. - Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International
The government of Díaz-Canel should focus on finding real solutions to Cuba’s problems, which include increasing scarcity of food and medicine, according to news reports. Instead, it continues to lock people up for their views. - Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International
Just over a year after new President Miguel Díaz-Canel assumed office, NGO Cuban Prisoners Defenders claims that at least 71people are imprisoned on politically motivated charges. Having considered just a handful those cases, in which we were able to review official court sentences and other available documentation, Amnesty International believes that the below mentioned individuals are prisoners of conscience –people imprisoned solely because of the peaceful exercise of their human rights.
Without access to Cuba, and because lawyers and the judiciary remain firmly under the authorities’ control, there are serious barriers for Amnesty International to document cases of those imprisoned solely for politically motivated reasons, and as such there are highly likely to be many more cases of prisoners of conscience than our organization has been able to document.
According to information available to Amnesty International, all the individuals are members of political opposition groups, not recognized by the authorities. All of them have been imprisoned for offences that are not internationally recognizable, which have been used for decades in Cuba to silence critical voices. Amnesty International calls for the reform of Cuba’s criminal laws to remove provisions that are inconsistent with international law, such as “dangerousness” and “contempt.”
BACKGROUND: CRIMINAL LAWS USED TO SILENCE IN CUBA
RESISTANCE AND PUBLIC DISORDER
Provisions of the criminal code such as “resistance” to public officials carrying out their duties, and “public disorder” have been used for decades to stifle the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Cuba.CONTEMPT“Contempt”, defined in article 144.1 of Cuba’s Criminal Code, is an undue restriction on the right to freedom of expression, as public officials should tolerate more criticism than private individuals. The use of defamation laws with the purpose or effect of inhibiting criticism of government or public officials violates the right to freedom of expression.
Amnesty International has further documented how the authorities use dismissals from state-employment, and harassment of self-employed workers in emerging private sector, as tactics of control over the right to freedom of expression, leaving many critical of the state’s economic or political model jobless.In multiple sentences issued for “dangerousness” reviewed by Amnesty International, the court refers to the fact that the accused does not work, as part of its reasoning for issuing the sentence of “dangerousness”. As those overtly critical of the government are frequently subject to such dismissals, this, in turn, facilitates the authorities’ ability to imprison dissenting voices for “dangerousness”.
PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE
|Josiel Guía Piloto|
|Silverio Portal Contreras|
|Mitzael Díaz Paseiro|
|Eliecer Bandera Barrera|
|Edilberto Ronal Arzuaga Alcalá|
These five cases show that although the leadership in Cuba might have changed, illegitimate restrictions on freedom of expression and association are still the practice. Therefore, besides other key recommendations presented in our Human Rights Agenda for Cuba, we urge the Cuban government to: