Open Letter to the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights on the eve of his arrival in Cuba
Center for Free Cuba Open Letter to the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights on the eve of his arrival in Cuba
Center for Free Cuba Open Letter to the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights on the eve of his arrival in Cuba

November 21, 2023

Mr. Eamon Gilmore

European Union Special Representative for Human Rights 

Dear Mr. Gilmore,

On the eve of your arrival in Cuba we wish to call attention to the dire human rights situation in the country.

Human rights defenders are not legally recognized, and activists are jailed for exercising their vocation. On March 2, 2022 the Cuban dictatorship confirmed the prison sentences of two Cuban human rights defenders. Félix Navarro Rodríguez, ( age 68 ), condemned to nine years in prison. His daughter, the Lady in White Sayli Navarro (age 35), was condemned to eight years in prison. Both are long time human rights defenders who have reported on systematic human rights violations in Cuba. Their crime was going to the police station to inquire about the plight of detained nonviolent protesters of the July 11, 2021 protests in Cuba.

Witnesses who documented nonviolent protests are also jailed. Luis Frómeta Compte, age 60, has dual Cuban and German citizenship. He had lived in Germany since 1985. He was in Cuba on July 11, 2021, during protests in Havana’s La Guinera area. He was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison, later reduced to 15 years, for sedition despite only filming protests on his cell phone.

Cubans engaged in nonviolent protests have been victims of excessive force leading to permanent injury, and in some cases death. Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, a 36-year-old singer, was shot in the back by the police in Cuba after joining 11J protests in Havana on July 12, 2021. There are others, but the regime has terrorized families into silence.

Over a thousand other Cubans have been justly imprisoned, and are enduring conditions that are inhumane for exercising their fundamental human rights. The death on November 19th of Luis Barrios Díaz, age 37, who was unjustly jailed after his nonviolent participation in the protests of July 11, 2021 reflects regime impunity with its prisoners.. Reports indicate that he died of a respiratory illness and a lack of adequate health care while in prison. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross has not been able to visit Cuban prisons since 1989, despite repeated requests by the ICRC.  Prison conditions in Cuba are terrible, and political prisoners continue to die in custody.

In addition to requesting the release of the over 1,000 political prisoners in Cuba we respectfully ask that you petition the Cuban government to do the following.

LEGALITY AND RESPECT FOR THE LIFE OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Given the repressive actions of the Cuban State against human rights defenders and activists, we ask that it be ensured that Cuban human rights defenders can work in a safe environment, particularly that their legality and validity be clearly and publicly recognized. by the Cuban government. Let the continuous attacks and slander campaigns by senior representatives of the Cuban State, its agents of influence, and the political police cease.

CEASE IMPUNITY IN CASES OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

We ask that independent, extensive and expeditious investigations be carried out into all cases of human rights violations, including those responsible and the chains of command for each incident. And that they should be considered crimes against humanity under international law. That those suspected of being responsible for these criminal acts be brought to justice; and ensure that those convicted of these crimes receive punishment commensurate with the seriousness of the offense. The case of pro-democracy leaders Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero murdered by Cuban government agents on July 22, 2012 is a well-documented example.

CESSATION OF THE EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE AND EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS

We ask that the Cuban government ensure that the Cuban police comply with the Basic Principles of the Use of Force and Firearms established by the UN for law enforcement agents when they are carrying out their work, and this includes when protests are held against government policies by the population.

IMPROVEMENT OF PRISON CONDITIONS AND THE TREATMENT OF PRISONERS

We ask that Cuban prisons and other detention centers comply with international rules of respect for human rights, including the Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners established by the UN. We also ask that the International Committee of the Red Cross be allowed to visit all prisons in Cuba.

Cordially,

John Suarez

Executive Director

Center for a Free Cuba

Janisset Rivero

Program Officer

Center for a Free Cuba