Freedom of Expression

Press Release 31/00


The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Santiago A. Canton, repudiates the detention of three Swedish journalists on August 29 in Havana, Cuba. According to the information received, the journalists Birger Thureson, of the newspaper Nya Dagen; Peter Gotell, former journalist of the newspaper Sundsvals Tidning; and Elena Soderquist, of the newspaper Arvika Nyheter, were detained by Cuban authorities and accused of "subversive activities," after they had conducted a seminar on freedom of the press in Cuba. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Felipe Pérez Roque, said that the three journalists had violated Cuban law by entering the country in the guise of tourists. He also said: "We hope that no one imagines that such acts will be tolerated." The three journalists were declared personae non gratae in Cuba and were released in the Havana airport.

Prior to these events, on August 17 the French journalist Martine Jacot, of the nongovernmental organization Reporters without Borders, had been interrogated and stripped of her journalistic materials by the Cuban authorities when she was about to return to France. The Special Rapporteur condemns the Cuban Government’s decision as it violates Article IV of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, which provides that "Every person has the right to freedom of investigation, of opinion, and of the expression and dissemination of ideas, by any medium whatsoever."

Dr. Santiago A. Canton once again urges the Cuban authorities to change their stance with regard to the independent press and to extend to all inhabitants the right to freedom of expression and information.

Santiago A. Canton
Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
September 1, 2000 Washington, D.C.