Cuba: New report dismisses 'feeble pretexts' for political detentions

Rolando Jiménez Posada, Rafael Millet Leyva, Miguel Sigler Amaya and Orlando Zapata Tamayo are four of the over 80 dissidents imprisoned after a massive government crackdown on 18 March 2003.

Amnesty International UK Media Director Lesley Warner said:

'These four people were arrested for participating in peaceful activities, including a march to celebrate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

'The crimes they stand accused of, 'disrespect,' 'public disorder' and 'disobedience' are a feeble pretext for locking up human rights defenders. Even more worrying is that in some cases, people remain imprisoned, nearly one year on, without any formal charge at all.'

The Cuban authorities have justified their actions against the 75 dissidents tried in April of last year as a need to defend themselves against provocations and threats posed to its national security by the United States. While Amnesty International believes that nothing can justify the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience or other violations of fundamental rights and continues to condemn Cuba for these violations, it also recognises the negative effect of the US embargo on the full range of human rights in Cuba, and therefore calls on the US to review its policy.

Lesley Warner said:

'The embargo provides the Cuban government with an excuse for its repressive policies, and has had a detrimental influence on nutrition, health, education and many other spheres of life, disproportionately harming the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.'

Amnesty International is once again urging the Cuban authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience, and to end all forms of harassment and intimidation directed against dissidents.

A full copy of the report Cuba: Newly declared prisoners of conscience is available online at: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGAMR250022004

For Cuba: 'Essential measures'? Human rights crackdown in the name of security, please see: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGAMR250172003

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