Havana Cuba. – Representatives of the Cuban regime denied the accusations made against the country before the United Nations Committee Against Torture, calling them “lies”, “gross”, “false” and “not credible”.
“The gross allegations of organizations that cannot even identify their sources or know our country cannot be credible. While credibility is given to these groups, the valuable contributions of many other organizations that are present in Cuba and know the daily life of the Cuban people are ignored,” said Rodolfo Benítez Versón, general director of Multinational Affairs and International Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who heads the Cuban delegation.
Meeting number 1893, held this Friday, April 29, is part of the 73rd Session of the Committee against Torture, which is in session in Geneva, Switzerland, from April 19 to May 13.
The Cuban delegation was also made up of María Caridad Pérez Rodríguez, chief prosecutor of the Legality Control Directorate in Penitentiary Establishments of the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic; the magistrate of the People’s Supreme Court, Paula Joaquina Rodríguez Sánchez; Colonel of the Ministry of the Interior, Víctor Álvarez Valle; the diplomatic adviser Pablo Berti Oliva; as well as other officials of the Cuban mission in Geneva.
Benítez Versón expressed the will to “work together (…) without politicization or false accusations,” referring to the sources cited by members of the Committee during the first day of examination. According to the official, the information transmitted by these NGOs that “do not reside in the country” “is not credible.”
“There are no people in Cuba deprived of liberty for the exercise of their human rights or for their political positions. It is really unfortunate that it is intended to present as alleged prisoners of conscience or human rights defenders those who disrespect collective security, general welfare, public order, the Constitution and the laws. The Cuban State recognizes and guarantees to each person the inalienable, imprescriptible, indivisible, universal and interdependent enjoyment and exercise of human rights, in accordance with the principles of progressiveness, equality and non-discrimination and in accordance with international human rights instruments.” , he claimed.
Likewise, he assured that in Cuba “harassment, threats, intimidation, violence and intimidation” are not practiced, that “the behavior of the forces of internal order corresponds to the highest international standards and is based on the respect for human dignity, the fundamental freedoms of citizens and compliance with established guarantees regardless of political beliefs. Our law enforcement forces work to raise the levels of law enforcement and guarantee citizen peace of mind.”
Benítez Versón also rejected that in Cuba medical assistance was denied to citizens, detained or free, as well as “the alleged arbitrary nature” of some arrests in the country.
Regarding “the riots of the July 11, 2021” he referred that “it is important that the Committee sticks to the truth about the events crudely manipulated by not a few media outlets. The truth is that the government of the United States bet on overthrowing the Cuban Revolution through an intense and well-financed political-communication campaign.”
“Public order was disturbed with the deliberate purpose of subverting the constitutional order, violent and extremely serious acts were encouraged in the country, causing injuries and endangering the collective security of citizens, officials and members of the security forces. ; property and facilities were damaged and destroyed. Nowhere in the world do these events qualify as peaceful demonstrations. No person was arrested or punished for exercising their rights recognized in the Constitution.”
“It was not done in the context of the July 11 riots, nor will it be done at any other time. The trials of those involved have been carried out with observance of due process and respect for the rights and constitutional guarantees of the accused, including the use of lawyers of their choice or appointed ex officio as established in current legislation.
Then, the official issued a customary speech in which Cuba is shown as a victim of the US “blockade”, “a reality that must be taken into account by the members of this Committee.”
Complaints against Cuba before the Committee against Torture
At the end of March, at least two reports denouncing Cuba for committing torture and cruel treatment against prisoners of conscience and human rights activists were presented to the United Nations Committee Against Torture.
The NGO Prisoners Defenders (PD) presented a report with 101 cases of political prisoners, most of them after the protests of July 11 (11J) 2021, who in Cuba have been subjected to torture, treatment or cruel, inhuman or degrading.
The organization identified at least 15 patterns of torture, including: deprivation of medical attention, liquids, food and sleep, physical aggression, humiliation, verbal abuse, solitary confinement as a form of punishment, forced labor and threats. .
The information, according to the NGO, was obtained directly from the victims, relatives, fellow prisoners or direct relatives as long as they were first-hand witnesses of what happened, and it was corroborated and compared with the PD databases.
Of the 101 political prisoners covered by the NGO report, 55 have been accused of the alleged crime of “public disorder”, 48 of “disrespect”, 39 of “attack”, 20 of “sedition” and 14 of “instigation to commit a crime”. ”, crimes all fabricated by the authorities, some of them even contrary to international standards, according to PD.
On the other hand, another report prepared by a coalition made up of some 13 human rights defender organizations, some of them with representatives within the Island, was presented: Article 19 Office for Mexico and Central America, Center for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR- Centre), Civil Rights Defenders, Cubalex, International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), San Isidro Movement, Network of Human Rights Defenders in Cuba, Working Group on Politically Motivated Detentions Justice 11J, Dialogue Table of the Cuban Youth, Free Society Project/Archivo Cuba, Center for the Study of Leadership and Development (CELIDE) and Women’s Platform.
In the presentation of this report before the Committee, and on behalf of the group, the Cuban journalist Darcy Borrero exposed the documentation of at least 1,440 people detained as a result of the 11J protests, of which some 750 remain in prison. As a result of the repression unleashed by the authorities, a police he killed the civilian Diubis Laurencio with a shot in the back; and other demonstrators, including a 16-year-old minor, were wounded by gunshots.
“Also, an uncounted number of people suffered some type of injury. The violence exercised by State agents, however, has not been exclusive to the moment of arrest: several people released from prison, or in detention, through different means of communication, have denounced beatings, power passes, verbal offenses, threats of sexual abuse, use of dogs to intimidate, sleep interruption, isolation in dark cells, which are typified as torture and ill-treatment, according to the Convention.
Similarly, Borrero stated that they have documented the systematic denial of medical assistance to detainees, that at least 35 of them contracted diseases such as COVID-19, dengue, hepatitis and scabies in detention centers, while others have reported health ailments. such as hypertension, otitis or others related to mental health (depression, schizophrenia and catalytic symptoms of suicide attempts).
Regarding the regime’s response to the United Nations body, in exclusive statements to CubaNet, Javier Larrondo, president of PD, affirmed that “Cuba has not been able to deny a single one of the accusations of the Committee against Torture, it has not presented any type of evidence that contradicts what the Committee had accused it of, which are very serious things For example, that there are 11,000 convicted of pre-criminal dangerousness (without committing any crime), which Cuba has not contradicted. (What he has said is that it will be repealed in the new Penal Code). Cuba has not offered arguments or real evidence, but rather a publicity smear that I think the Committee should not influence at all”.
Some recommendations to Cuba by the Committee
At the end of the meeting, Claude Heller, president of the UN Committee against Torture, asked Cuba for information on the number of people tried for the political crime of sedition. In addition, he highlighted the request of international organizations for the release of all the 11J protesters who did not participate in violent acts.
The expert expressed concern about “the automatic disqualification of any independent voice or expression and the denial of the legitimacy of any protest” by the Cuban regime.
Likewise, he highlighted the importance of cooperation with the United Nations and the need for Cuba to be able to ratify agreements such as the one on Civil and Political Rights, or others related to the death penalty in the future. Although he recognized that Cuba has not applied the death penalty since 2003, he expressed the will that the Island apply a moratorium whose ultimate goal is the abolition of the death penalty.
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