The Committee against Torture asks Cuba to punish those responsible for the excessive use of force during the protests of July 11, 2021

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The Committee against Torture has requested Cuba “to promptly, independently, and exhaustively investigate, prosecute and, where appropriate, punish those responsible for the excessive use of force and ill-treatment that occurred during the social protests of July 11, 2021”.

The recommendation is included in the latest report issued this Friday by the Committee, in which it expresses its concern about the complaints documenting that during the protests there was mistreatment such as beatings, insults, threats of a sexual nature, comprehensive body searches, isolation in dark cells, use of pepper spray, exposure to high temperatures inside police vehicles, and abandonment of people held in remote areas.

Also in relation to the protests, the human rights experts who make up the Committee, and who take note of the rejection of these allegations by the Cuban State, expressed their concern about “the complaints of summary trials without guarantees of due process, the restrictions on mobility, limitations in internet access and acts of repudiation”.

Therefore, they recommend Cuba establish protocols that regulate the actions of law enforcement during social protestsin accordance with international standards for the protection of human rights.

Reprisals against human rights defenders, journalists and artists

More generally, the Committee reiterated “its concern about information from the United Nations documenting cases of harassment, attacks, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment and reprisals against human rights defenders, journalists and artists, especially those considered to be political opponents.”

The report includes a series of recommendations for Cuba to adopt the necessary measures to prevent these arrests and acts of harassment, and to ensure that, when they occur, they are investigated and those responsible are punished.

In addition, it recommends establish an independent national protection mechanism of human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society actors.

Another issue addressed by the Committee is that of deaths in custody and it regrets that the State has not presented complete statistical information regarding persons deprived of liberty who died during the period under review by the Committee, which averaged 100 per year and whose main cause would be cardiovascular diseases, according to the information provided by Cuba.

For this reason, the Committee recommends that the State of the Caribbean country “ensure that all cases of death during deprivation of liberty are investigated promptly and impartially by an independent body, taking due account of the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Deaths”.

It also requests “investigate any possible responsibility of public officials in the death of people in custodyand when appropriate, duly punish the guilty and provide fair and adequate compensation to the next of kin.”

After pointing out his concern about the subordination of the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic to the President of the Republic, established in article 157 of the Cuban Constitution, and about the restrictions on the independent practice of law, since only members of the National Organization of Collective Law Firms can practice the profession in the State party, the Committee’s experts recall that the State must ensure the full independence, impartiality and effectiveness of the Attorney General’s Office and the judiciary, in particular ensuring that the appointment of judges conforms to relevant international standards.

Positive aspects

Among the positive aspects of the report, the Committee highlights the State party’s adherence to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, as well as initiatives to review legislation in areas relevant to the Convention against Human Trafficking. torture.

Other aspects mentioned by the Committee are the efforts made by the Cuban State in order to modify its policies and procedures to strengthen the protection of human rights.

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