Press Release

IACHR Publishes Country Report on Human Rights Situation in Cuba and Expresses Concern over Dissidents and Human Rights Defenders

4 de junio, 2020

   Related links

   Contact info

IACHR Press Office

   More on the IACHR
A+ A-

Washington D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has published a new country report, “The Human Rights Situation in Cuba.” In the report, the IACHR presents an overview of the human rights situation in the country between 2017 and 2019, in which it draws attention to how the one-party system implies a lack of participation in political life and free elections and notes the lack of provisions to guarantee the separation of powers, as the National Assembly continues to exercise various powers, and the absence of conditions to guarantee judicial independence. Likewise, the IACHR noted that certain social groups are particularly exposed to risk, especially human rights defenders, activists, and political dissidents, who are allegedly victims of short-term arbitrary detentions, processes of criminalization, and judicial persecution. The IACHR has made a series of recommendations to the Cuban government regarding these matters.

The IACHR monitors the human rights situation in Cuba continuously by virtue of its mandate under the Charter of the Organization of American States and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, which it has been doing through its various protection mechanisms. Between 1960 and 1983, the IACHR published seven country reports on Cuba. Since 1985, the IACHR has consistently included Cuba in chapter IV B of its annual report because it deems that the fundamental conditions and institutions that are inherent to representative democracy are not in place in the country: there is no judicial independence, there are limitations to the separation of powers, and there are continual restrictions on exercising political rights and freedom of expression, in addition to serious, large-scale, systematic violations of rights set forth in the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man.

The IACHR noted that it has not created a country report under article 60 of its Rules of Procedure for 37 years. It has drafted and published this report in response to the Cuban state's lack of consent to its carrying out an observation visit and because of the worrying information it has received about the serious human rights situation in the country. In the process of drafting this report, the IACHR has systematized and analyzed the information it received between 2017 and 2019 regarding the human rights situation in Cuba. To do so, the IACHR has drawn on ex officio investigations and inputs from the various mechanisms it has used to follow up on the situation in the country, including public hearings, precautionary measures, petitions and cases, press reports, including from Cuban government media, and decisions and recommendations from specialized international organizations.

The report also includes information obtained from 55 interviews with Cuban people who live or have lived on the island at some point in the last three years. In the report, the IACHR highlights the lack of pluralist spaces for political participation in Cuba. The single-party political regime seriously restricts people with different political convictions from participating in public political life and holding political office. Furthermore, authorities such as the National Assembly of People’s Power continue to hold a wide range of powers for public decision-making, which blurs the separation of powers. There is a continuing absence of conditions that provide guarantees for judicial independence, especially around cases involving activists and dissidents.

The IACHR emphasized that Cuba continues to be the only country in the Americas in which there are no guarantees of any kind for exercising the right to freedom of expression, and it remains concerned about the serious limitations on freedom of opinion, expression, and the imparting of information and ideas.

The report also analyzes the process of constitutional reform in the country. Although the IACHR welcomed the inclusion of several human rights and guarantees, it also drew attention to the importance of implementing these effectively and noted with concern that the constitution takes precedent over international treaties. The IACHR observed that the constitutional reform process was a unique opportunity for outlawing capital punishment as a criminal sanction but that this change was not contemplated during the process. Although capital punishment is not banned per se by the American Declaration, the IACHR has indicated that this does not exempt countries from complying with the standards and protections that are set out in that document.

On the matter of serious, systematic human rights violations, in the report, the IACHR expressed its ongoing concern over serious impacts on the political rights to vote and hold office, the right to residence and transit, and protection against arbitrary detention. The exercise of these rights is allegedly limited by the authoritarian exercise of power: political dissidents or those who are perceived as dissidents allegedly face continual restrictions to these rights.

In the report, the IACHR put forward a wealth of information regarding how certain groups are particularly exposed to risk, especially human rights defenders, who are allegedly victims of short-term arbitrary detentions, processes of criminalization, and judicial persecution, and also suffer continual restrictions on international travel or retaliations on their return to the country after traveling abroad. Likewise, the IACHR analyzed the circumstances in which certain particularly vulnerable groups find themselves, which include the invisibilization of people of African descent, discrimination and violence against women and people from the LGBTI community, the situation of children and adolescents and people with disabilities, restrictions on the full exercise of the right to movement and residence both within the country and abroad, and the persistence of deplorable conditions of detention for people who are deprived of their liberty. It also expressed its concern over economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in the country.

Finally, the IACHR presented conclusions and made recommendations to the Cuba state to help it promote public policies that effectively guarantee democratic rights. It also expressed its willingness to provide the Cuban state with the necessary technical support for promoting the effective enjoyment of human rights for all people on the island.

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. 127/20