Cuba also should abolish vaguely worded crimes, such as “pre-criminal social dangerousness,” it added, and halt the “acts of repudiation” by pro-government mobs against dissidents like the Ladies in White and Cuban Patriotic Union “with the presumed connivance … of police authorities.”
Persons detained should be allowed immediate access to independent defense lawyers and doctors as well as relatives, the report said. The government also should guarantee the independence of the justice system and resolve gaps in its due process regulations.
The report also repeatedly complained that Cuba had provided little or none of the detailed information the panel had requested on some issues, specifically the deaths of Zapata Tamayo after a long hunger strike and Soto Garcia after an alleged police beating.
Cuba provided no details on the 202 prison deaths — “a number the committee considers to be high” — or the 46 prison officials and guards that the government claimed had been put on trial and convicted for abuses. It claimed there’s no prison overcrowding, but gave no numbers.
The committee “laments the reticence of the government … to present complete information” on the short-term detentions, the report noted. Cuba also presented no information on people convicted of “crimes against the security of the state” — usually viewed as political prisoners.
On the positive side, the report praised Cuba for signing four international agreements on the rights of children and disabled persons and banning “forced disappearances,” approving a multi-year plan to fix up prison facilities and working to reduce family violence.
The report also noted that the Cuban government gave “an affirmative answer” to a request for a visit to the island by the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on torture and other physical abuses, a sort of super-investigator who reports to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.
The job is now held by Juan E. Mendez, 67, an Argentine jailed for 18 months during the military dictatorships in the 1970s. He has lived in the United States for many years and served as president of the human rights branch of the Organization of American States in Washington.
Cuba also invited Mendez’ predecessor, Austrian lawyer Manfred Nowak, to visit the island in January of 2009. But Cuban officials then said they were very busy, and Nowak left the post 22 months later without having visited the island.
Mariño was quoted as saying at the news conference that allowing Mendez to visit would show that Cuba “has no political fear of submitting to an inspection by foreign organizations.”