Press Release

IACHR Condemns Arbitrary Arrests of Human Rights Defenders in Cuba

November 9, 2012

Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the wave of arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders this week in Cuba. As of now, some of these individuals have been released, but at least 15 others are still in custody.

Information the IACHR has received indicates that at least 37 individuals in Cuba have been arrested since November 7, 2012, especially in the cities of Havana and Camagüey. According to various sources, the first to be arrested was attorney Yaremis Flores, followed by Antonio Rodiles, Laritza Diversent, Veizant Boloy, and Ailer González. Various Cuban organizations indicated that several people—including Yoani Sánchez, Reinaldo Escobar, and other activists—had gone to the Acosta police station in Havana to seek the release of those who had been arrested, and ended up being arrested themselves. Human rights defender Berta Soler, the leader of the group Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), said that her husband, Angel Moya, was later arbitrarily arrested, along with Julio Aleaga, Librado Linares, Félix Navarro, Iván Hernández Carrillo, Eduardo Díaz Fleites, and Guillermo Fariñas Hernández.

In addition, in the city of Camagüey, Virgilio Mantilla Arango was said to have been violently arrested, and later, Humberto Galindo Moya, Elicardo Freire Jiménez, and Ángelo Guillermo Álvarez Olazábal. Individuals who reportedly went to the Reparto Garrido police station in Camagüey to demand the release of those who were in custody were also said to have been arrested: Pablo Jiménez, Alberto Faustino Calá, Jeiser Torres, and Santos Manuel Fernández Sánchez.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemns these acts, which violate people's fundamental rights—rights enshrined in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, signed by Cuba—particularly the rights to freedom of expression and to a fair trial; the rights of assembly, association, petition, and protection from arbitrary arrest; and the right to due process of law.

Some defenders indicated that the arrests may have been intended to block a planned organizational meeting by signers of the Citizen Demand for Another Cuba, an advocacy effort seeking Havana's ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The meeting had been planned for November 8, 2012.

The Commission's 2011 Annual Report, referring to Cuba, noted that "temporary arbitrary detentions were still being made and could last hours or even a few days. The victims were persons identified as opponents of the regime and the idea was to prevent them from participating in political activities or to respond to demonstrations or the circulation of messages critical of the Government."

The organization Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) stated that during the month of October, 520 people were arrested in Cuba for political reasons, and that so far in 2012, it has recorded 5,625 cases of temporary detentions or prosecutions for political reasons.

The IACHR reiterates that restrictions to political rights and to freedom of the expression and dissemination of ideas, the lack of elections, the lack of an independent judiciary, and restrictions to the rights to residence and movement constitute an ongoing infringement of the fundamental rights of Cuban citizens. The IACHR urges the State to undertake the necessary reforms to meet its international human rights obligations.

The Inter-American Commission urges the State of Cuba to bring its procedural rules into line with the applicable international standards on due process so that those who come before the courts for the determination of their rights and responsibilities have the mninimum legal guarantees to mount their defense. The Commission also urges the State of Cuba to take the measures necessary to prevent and eliminate the various forms of harassment against those who exercise their rights of association and of assembly.

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 area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS

No. 132/12