Letters to the Editor

Cuba’s judicial system worlds apart from ours

Re the Aug. 30 article, “This Florida murder case was tried in Cuba. And local prosecutors got to watch.”

An uninformed reader could have been left with the impression that the American and Cuban legal systems are largely similar. That could not be further from the truth. The differences between the two systems are stark.

The Cuban judiciary is subordinate to Cuba’s legislative body, the Cuban National Assembly (CNA), and does not possess the power of judicial review. Cuban courts are thus vassals of the CNA, enforcing invalid laws that violate the universal rights of Cuban citizens.

The Cuban government can arrest and detain Cubans without an arrest warrant or equivalent order. Cubans can be detained without knowing the charges against them, without access to legal counsel, and without any judicial intervention to safeguard their rights.

The Cuban judicial system also does not allow a trial by jury, a crucial safeguard for the liberty and due process of the criminally accused. Criminal trials are adjudicated by a panel of judges comprised of professional judges appointed by the corrupt CNA and so-called lay judges who are strident adherents of the Cuban government. For a conviction, no unanimity of this biased panel is required — only guilty votes from two of the professional judges and one lay judge.

These are just a few of the notable differences in the two systems.

Thousands of Cubans are arbitrarily imprisoned without due process every year, with dozens of political prisoners tried in bogus criminal proceedings. Cuba remains one of the worst human rights violators in the world and the Cuban people continue to be denied their basic, undeniable rights.

Jorge Piedra,

president,

Cuban American Bar Association,

Miami

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