Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Immigration Reforms in Cuba

November 5, 2012

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the reforms to Cuba's Immigration Law that eliminate some restrictions for Cuban nationals seeking permission to travel outside the country. The Commission believes that this is a positive step that should be followed by additional measures. It urges the State of Cuba to continue adopting reforms until it fully guarantees the right of all Cubans to leave the country, move about within their territory, choose their place of residence, and decide whether to enter or reenter the country of which they are nationals.

As is publicly known, on October 16, 2012, Decree-Law No. 302 was published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba, modifying Law No. 1312 ("Immigration Law") of September 1976. The main changes introduced to the Immigration Law include the partial elimination of the requirement for permission to leave the territory; the extension, from 11 to 24 months, of the period a Cuban national who has traveled abroad is considered to have emigrated; the elimination of the need for an invitation letter from the destination country; and the possibility for children to travel on a temporary basis, once they have authorization from their parents or legal representatives. Decree-Law No. 302 will take effect on January 14, 2013.

On the other hand, the Commission observes that Decree-Law No. 302 keeps certain restrictions for reasons of defense and national security; the security and protection of official information; the public interest; and the need to maintain a qualified work force, among other grounds. The Commission believes that the generality of certain terms leaves a broad margin for the authorities' discretion, and urges the State of Cuba to fully guarantee the right of all Cuban nationals to move about freely.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 130/12