A branch of the United Nations Human Rights Council has made public a report urging Cuba to immediately free jailed U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, saying that island’s judicial system is not independent or impartial.
The report by the UNHRC’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also said the national security law under which Gross was charged was vague and violated human rights agreements.
The Working Group sent a private copy of the report last month to the Cuban government, which immediately accused its authors of violating their own procedures and bowing to pressures from Washington to condemn Cuba. But Havana did not make the report itself public.
Jared Genser, an international human rights lawyer hired by the Gross family to push their complaint that the 2009 arrest and 2011 conviction of Gross amounted to human rights abuse, said the panel sent him a public copy this week. He made it public Tuesday.
The Geneva-based Working Group has no enforcement powers, though its 12-page report obviously stung Havana last month. Its members are human rights experts from Norway, Chile, Senegal, Ukraine and Pakistan.
Gross, 63, an international development specialist from Potomac, Md., is serving a 15-year prison sentence for delivering sophisticated communications equipment to Cuban Jews so they could access the Internet outside the government’s tight controls. The equipment was paid for by U.S. government programs designed to promote democracy on the island.
Cuba has outlawed all cooperation with the programs, saying they are designed to topple the communist system, and charged Gross with a crime against the state, acting against the nation’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The Working Group’s report criticized the Cuban judicial system, the vague charges against Gross and the denial of bail while he awaited trial for more than a year, but did not delve deeply into the details of the case.
Genser also released a letter from Gross’ wife, Judy, to Cuba ruler Raúl Castro urging him to heed that report.
“Given this ruling, I would like to know why your Government is ignoring the declaration of the United Nations that his imprisonment to be wrongful and its request for Alan’s immediate release?” Judy Gross wrote