13 June 2006
Human Rights in Cuba Deteriorating, Says European Union
Number of political prisoners in Cuba said to be increasing
By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- The European Union (EU) says it deplores what it calls "further deterioration" of the human rights situation in Cuba since June 2005.
In a June 12 statement, the EU's foreign ministers said that according to Cuban human rights organizations, the number of political prisoners in Cuba has risen in the last year to more than 330 documented cases. This figure includes several individuals detained without charge or trial since 2005.
In addition, the EU's ministers said, hundreds of young Cuban citizens have been detained and sentenced under a Cuban penal code that makes it unlawful to show the "propensity to commit a crime." The foreign ministers’ statement was released after the Luxemburg meeting of the EU's General Relations and External Relations Council, which deals with the EU’s foreign affairs.
The foreign ministers reiterated their call for the Cuban government to "unconditionally" release all political prisoners in Cuba, including a group of 75 people who were detained and sentenced to prison in 2003.
The EU foreign ministers expressed particular concern about several dozen acts of violent harassment and intimidation against members of Cuba’s peaceful political opposition and civil society reported since July 2005. The Cuban authorities, said the ministers, were not fulfilling their obligations to protect all Cuban citizens. The foreign ministers "urgently" called on Cuba's government "to take prompt action to stop the ongoing harassment and to undertake every effort to effectively prevent its resumption."
EU relations with Cuba are governed by what is called the EU’s "Common Position" adopted in 1996. Among other things, it requires regular evaluations of the situation in Cuba.
The Common Position says the EU's objective in its relations with Cuba is to encourage "a process of transition to a pluralist democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as sustainable recovery and improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people."
The United States and other members of the international community repeatedly have condemned human rights abuses in Cuba. A report released April 5 by the U.S. State Department says that for the past 47 years, the Cuban government of Fidel Castro has "consistently spurned domestic and international calls for greater political tolerance and respect for human rights." Read more [here].
Monday, June 19, 2006
Cuba: A member in good standing?
The European Union brings to attention one of the worst violators of human rights and of one of the United Nations Human Rights Council most notable member.