Two months after Cuba protests, religious leaders continue to demand justice for detainees

By Diego Lopez Marina for CNA

The Cuban flag. / Steward Cutler via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Havana, Cuba, Sep 14, 2021 / 15:19 pm (CNA).

Two months after protests of Cuba’s communist government, the Cuban Conference of Men and Women Religious has denounced irregularities in the proceedings against those detained for demonstrating.

Protests took place across Cuba July 11-12. Protesters cited concerns about inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Some protesters were beaten, and thousands were arrested.

CONCUR Support Services noted Sept. 9 “the need for strict compliance with the law by applying the law in favor of the accused” and that the cases against peaceful protesters ought to be “freely dismissed.”

The organization noted “with regret” the “repeated refusals” of the authorities “to the changes in preventive measures requested by the lawyers, as well as not considering the evidence presented for this purpose.”

CONCUR protested “the difficulty, and in many cases even the impossibility, of the lawyers to meet with their clients due to the complex epidemiological situation of the country and the prisons,” as well as “the detainees’ limited communication with their families.”

The organization of religious men and women also decried “the slow process of investigating the facts, as well as the scant evidence of the alleged crimes.”

Prisoners Defenders, a Spanish NGO for the legal defense of human rights, reported Sept. 2 “that the number of detainees on the island from July 11 to July 17, a period during which it was not legally required to press charges to hold the defendants, was more than 5,000 detainees at a minimum.”

“Higher estimates from our team could put the figure between 6,000 and 8,000 detainees,” the NGO said.

The Prisoners Defenders’ study was based “on the analysis of more than 100 interviews with people affected by the arrests, out of a total of more than 550 arrest records collected” by the organization.

The report published by the NGO also shows “that the number of people who remained under arrest after that time frame in police stations and prisons, through orders limiting their freedom decreed by prosecutors or through court rulings” exceeded 1,500 people.

Of those 1,500 cases, Prisoners Defenders said it was possible to verify 381 cases of people convicted and sentenced on political grounds.

“Of the trials held to date, the study shows that the vast majority, at least greater than 85%, were held summarily, and in particular trial by the Summary Process by Direct Evidence predominated, as Lisnay María Mederos Torres, Chief Prosecutor of the Criminal Procedures Directorate of the State Attorney General’s Office already stated on Cuban television, a process that is of a police and not judicial nature, whereby the accused go to trial without the need for a prosecutor or a lawyer, and where they can receive prison sentences ranging from months to several years depending on the number of crimes charged, provided that each crime charged does not exceed the penalty of one year in prison,” the organization explained.

According to the Spanish NGO “all the defendants who have undergone summary proceedings have suffered arbitrary deprivation of liberty, just attending to the process used.”

Communist rule in Cuba was established soon after the conclusion of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, which ousted the authoritarian ruler Fulgencio Batista.


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