Cuba: End of Castro rule must mark ‘a new era of respect for human rights’
Amnesty International launches new human rights agenda for Cuba
This week will mark the end of 60 years of a Castro-led government
The end of Raúl Castro’s presidency presents a historic opportunity to overhaul the state of human rights in Cuba, Amnesty International said today, as it published a roadmap for how the new administration could improve the nation’s human rights record.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:
“This is an opportune moment to engage in essential and constructive dialogue about Cuba’s future.
“The new president must seize this chance to build on Cuba’s human rights progress in areas like access to healthcare and education, by addressing the nation’s historical human rights challenges, particularly the ongoing restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
“The government must not squander this opportunity to usher in a new era of respect for human rights.
“Through dialogue with all sectors of Cuban society, including human rights organisations, independent trade unions, journalists and other civil society groups, authorities must guarantee the rights of all Cubans, including those who are critical of the government.
“This must include putting a swift end to censorship, bringing its criminal justice system in line with international standards, and tackling all forms of discrimination.”
Although Amnesty has not been allowed into the country for nearly three decades, it has documented the ongoing detention, harassment and intimidation of activists and independent journalists in the months prior to Raúl Castro’s planned departure. In the last three years, the organisation has been able to identify at least 11 prisoners of conscience in the country, detained solely for their peacefully held beliefs.
Amnesty’s human rights agenda for Cuba
Amnesty’s agenda - Transform confrontation into dialogue - highlights the urgent and long-standing human rights challenges that the new Cuban administration should prioritise and proposes 15 concrete steps to be taken in five key areas.
These include the need for the Cuban government to engage constructively with international human rights monitors and engage openly in a range of human rights issues, from reforms that guarantee a free press to the creation of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. The roadmap also calls on the government to respect the right to education by putting an immediate end to censorship and undue internet restrictions, to allow the registration of all civic associations, and to strengthen the independence of the judiciary.
Amnesty also reiterates its longstanding call for the USA to lift the embargo on Cuba, which continues to undermine the economic and social rights of the nation’s most vulnerable people.
Raúl Castro’s presidency is expected to come to an end on Thursday 19 April, marking the end of almost 60 years of a Castro-led government in Cuba.