Cuba – Release five prisoners of conscience immediately
Cuba: Release five prisoners of conscience immediately
The Cuban authorities must immediately and unconditionally release five
men who have been named prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.
The cases of the five men – Rafael Matos Montes de Oca, Emilio Planas
Robert and the brothers Alexeis, Diango, and Vianco Vargas Martín – are
indicative of the continuing repression of freedom of expression on the
island, the organization said.
“These five cases are only the tip of the iceberg for Cuba’s repression
of free speech,” said Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor for Amnesty
“The only progress made by the Cuban government has been the reform of
the Migration Law earlier this year. It allowed many people including
human rights defenders and government critics to travel abroad. Much
more needs to be done to guarantee civil and political liberties in the
Emilio Planas Robert and Rafael Matos Montes de Oca Both have both been
found guilty of peligrosidad (dangerousness, or “special proclivity to
commit crimes”) and sentenced to medidas de seguridad predelictivas
(“security measures”), even though no evidence was presented against
them in court.
“The use of this particular legislation, which allows the government to
jail its citizens on the slightest evidence because it believes they may
commit a crime in the future, is a flagrant violation of international
standards and must be immediately repealed,” said Javier Zúñiga.
“This Orwellian law is being used as a pretext to jail government
critics,” he added.
Amnesty International believes the conviction is politically motivated,
as both men are members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica
de Cuba, UNPACU), a civil society organization which advocates for
greater civil liberties on the island.
Alexeis Vargas Martín and his 17-year-old twin brothers, Diango and
Vianco Vargas Martín – all members of UNPACU – have been accused by the
police of using violence or intimidation against a state official
(atentado). They have not been formally charged and their lawyer has not
been granted access to their case-files. They are being held at
different prisons in Santiago de Cuba province.
“Repression of independent journalists, opposition leaders and human
rights activists increased last year in Cuba, and show no sign of
abating,” Javier Zúñiga added.
“In recent months, we have received scores of reports of people who were
arbitrarily arrested and even imprisoned on ludicrous charges that
violate international standards.”
By the end of June this year, 2,143 people are reported to have been
subject to short-term arrests in Cuba.
There were reports of an average of 400 short-term arrests each month
during 2012 and activists travelling from the provinces to Havana were
frequently detained. The independent Cuban Commission for Human Rights
and National Reconciliation reported 6,602 detentions of government
critics last year, compared to 4,123 in 2011 and 2,074 in 2010.
Cuban investigative journalist Calixto Martínez was freed on 9 April
2013 after Amnesty International named him a prisoner of conscience in
January. He was held for almost seven months in prison but was never
formally charged with any crime.
Emilio Planas Robert and Rafael Matos Montes de Oca were arrested in the
eastern city of Guantánamo on 23 and 27 September last year
respectively, after posters with anti-government slogans appeared around
Alexeis Vargas Martín was arrested on 27 November 2012 in the city of
Santiago de Cuba, as he tried to return to his home. His mother who is a
member of the opposition organization Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco)
was throwing a birthday celebration. Pro-government protestors were
demonstrating outside the house and had blocked the road.
His brothers, Diango and Vianco Vargas Martín, were arrested on 2
December, as they protested their brother’s detention in front of a
Source: “Cuba: Release five prisoners of conscience immediately |
Amnesty International USA” –