Cuban Political Prisoners: at Least 93 People in Jail without Proper Trial
EspañolNinety-three is the number of political prisoners in Cuba, according to a list released this week by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), led by Elizardo Sanchez — though the list is considered “biased” even by the committee itself.
The report released by the CCDHRN this Monday, April 26 said that of the 93 political prisoners, 21 had spent between 13 and 24 years in high-security prisons. The list was recently updated with 22 more names.
The CCDHRN has four categories for classifying political prisoners: peaceful opponents, those convicted in State Security Court, those convicted of “crimes against the state” and those sentenced with “parole.”
The names of 51 peaceful dissidents convicted or prosecuted for their rebellious attitude or activities appeared. There were 27 names listed in the State Security Court section for use of a weapon, or some form of force or violence.
Also, four citizens of the opposition convicted of “other crimes against the state” appeared on the list, three of them Government Foreign Intelligence Service officials. Among them was Miguel Alvarez, who at the time of his arrest was Chief Adviser to then-President of the National Parliament Ricardo Alarcon.
The list disclosed by Elizardo Sanchez also included 11 former prisoners released with a furlough — a legal entity that kept their 25-year sentences imposed during the infamous 2003 “Black Spring.”
According to the CCDHRN, at least 26 political prisoners have the right to “probation” in accordance to with criminal code provisions.
The report said it is very difficult to make an complete list of political prisoners in Cuba where, according to estimates by the commission, the lack of respect for human rights has resulted in a prison population oscillating between 60,000 and 70,000 inmates.
The report also criticizes the Cuban government for rejecting offers for collaboration from the International Red Cross, NGOs and UN experts looking to inspect and improve conditions in prison systems worldwide.
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The Cuban prison system is composed of around 200 prisons, including about 60 high-security prisons, labor camps and detention centers.
“The government insists that in Cuba there have not been, nor are prisoners for political reasons,” said the CCDHRN, “but only counterrevolutionary prisoners and ordinary criminal offenses: but before and now such a statement is simply uncertain.”
A Commission spokesman said the existence of political prisoners in Cuba came to light last March during Obama’s visit, when a foreign journalist inquired about the subject during a press conference with Raul Castro. Castro challenged the journalist to present a list of political prisoners as a way to deny that there are such prisoners in the country.
The report concluded by referencing former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize-recipient Oscar Arias, who said “any government that considers itself democratic, can’t have a single political prisoner.”