IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of Journalist Luis Valdés Cocho and His Human Rights Defender Partner in Cuba

December 3, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 100/2021 on December 1, 2021, to grant precautionary measures in favor of the journalist Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho and his partner, a human rights defender, in Cuba, in the belief that they face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable damage to their rights.

The parties who requested these precautionary measures said that Valdés Cocho is an independent journalist who self-identifies as gay and who has been subjected to harassment, arrests, and other forms of violence by Cuban authorities, as has been his partner, "X," and Afro-descendant human rights defender. The parties who requested these precautionary measures reported that the proposed beneficiaries had been subjected to constant hounding, interrogation, harassment, and threats by officers of the State's law enforcement agencies. The Commission is disappointed that the State has failed to provide its own observations, although they were requested in keeping with Article 25.5 of the IACHR's Rules of Procedure.

The Commission warned that LGBTI persons and human rights defenders in Cuba who are active on issues concerning sexual orientation and/or characteristics and gender identity and/or expression are still targets of discrimination and violence and of restrictions to their rights of assembly and association, as well as of censorship affecting their freedom of expression and thought. In particular, the IACHR noted that the intersection between discrimination based on ethnic or racial criteria, diverse sexual orientation, and gender identity appears to be disproportionately affecting Afro-Cuban LGBTI persons. The Commission is particularly concerned about indications that Valdés Cocho has been subjected to harassment and threats linked to his sexual orientation, and even to assault, while in State custody. "Police involvement in acts of discrimination and violence against LGBT persons leads others to believe that they can harm without punishment individuals with non-normative sexual orientations and gender identities," the Commission stressed.

After assessing the available information, the IACHR concluded that Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho and "X" are in a serious and urgent situation. Both face serious restrictions to freely conduct their activities as an independent journalist in the case of Valdés Cocho and as a human rights defender in the case of "X."

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission asked the State of Cuba to:

  • Adopt any measures necessary to protect the beneficiaries' rights to life and personal integrity (to that end, the State needs to ensure both that its officers will respect the lives and the personal integrity of the proposed beneficiaries and that they will protect them from actions that might be perpetrated by third parties, in compliance with the standards of international human rights law)
  • Take any measures necessary to enable the beneficiaries to do their work as a journalist and a human rights defender as required, without being subjected to intimidation, harassment, or any other acts of violence for doing such work (this includes taking measures to enable them to exercise their right to freedom of expression)
  • Come to an agreement with the beneficiaries and their representatives concerning any measures that need to be taken
  • Report on any actions adopted to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure, in order to prevent such events from happening again in the future

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the applicable instruments.

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 and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. 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. 325/21

7:30 PM