Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The International Bill of Human Rights and Cuba's failure to ratify

Two important anniversaries

2016 marks an important anniversary. Fifty years ago on December 16, 1966 two important human rights covenants were opened for signature: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that came into force on January 3, 1976 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that came into force on March 23, 1976. Together they are known as the International Bill of Human Rights. The Human Rights Action Center, founded by human rights pioneer Jack Healey in 2010 prepared the following video explaining the two covenants:

Eight years ago on February 28, 2008 the Cuban dictatorship signed both covenants. Less than a year later on January 28, 2009 representatives of the Cuban government extended an invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture that was never allowed by the regime.

Eight years later despite calls by international human rights organizations and a campaign inside of Cuba the Castro regime has not ratified either covenant. Despite signing the two covenants the human rights situation in Cuba has deteriorated since 2008 with an explosion in the number of arbitrary detentions and the extrajudicial executions of high profile activists such as Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas who could have overseen a democratic transition in Cuba.

There have also been negative consequences for the United Nations Human Rights Council and international human rights standards as a result of the work of the Castro regime's diplomats working in Geneva, Switzerland over the years.

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