December 15, 2018

Press Freedom

Cuba

OPC Presses Raul Castro for Further Moves on Cuban Dissidents

H.E. Raúl Castro
Office of the President
Consejo de Estado
Plaza de la Revolución

Ciudad de la Habana
Republic of Cuba
Fax: (011.537) 81.22.71

Your Excellency:

On behalf of the Overseas Press Club of America, which defends the rights of journalists around the world, we write to express our appreciation of your government’s recent decision to free 52 of the 75 journalists and human rights activists who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2003.

We are further encouraged by the statement on July 20 by the president of Cuba’s Parliament, Ricardo Alarcon, while discussing Cuba’s remaining political prisoners, that “the government’s wish is to free all the people” not accused of murder.

We urge you to follow up on Mr. Alarcon’s words and allow the release of all of Cuba’s political prisoners, including the many journalists who remain in jail. This step would be crucial in corroborating Cuba’s desire to demonstrate a greater commitment to human rights, in particular the right to free expression.

In the meantime, other steps will also be essential. The living conditions of journalists and other political prisoners still in jail must be improved. As we wrote to you in our letter of March 23, “They remain in jail under conditions that can only be described as torture. They are crammed into unhealthy cells, served disgusting food, given dirty water, allowed very limited — if any — visiting rights, and denied medical attention until their health has so deteriorated that it can no longer be ignored.”

Your government can further demonstrate its commitment to free expression by ceasing to detain journalists on the pretext that they might represent a “pre-criminal danger to society” (defined under article 75 of the Cuban penal code, concerning peligrosidad, or “dangerousness”).

Finally, we urge your government to ratify the two covenants signed by Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque in February, 2008: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Both covenants guarantee the right to freedom of expression, without which there can be no rule of law.

We thank you for your attention to this crucial issue, and would welcome your thoughts.

Respectfully yours,

Kevin McDermott
Co-Chairmen — Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

Ambassador Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba
to the United Nations
315 Lexington Avenue
New York , NY 10016
Fax: (212) 689.9073

Mr. Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera
Cuban Interests Section
c/o Embassy of Switzerland
2630 Sixteenth Street, NW
Washington , DC   20009
Fax: (202) 986.7283

Mr. James C. Cason
U.S. Interests Section
c/o Embassy of Switzerland
Calzada between L and M Streets

Vedado Seccion
Havana
Cuba
Fax: (011.537) 33.37.00

Hon. Navi Pillay
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: (011.41.22) 917.9022

Maria Otero
Under Secretary of State for Democracy & Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520