U.N. Finds Gross Detention Against Int'l Law

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
United Nations Finds Alan Gross to be Detained in Violation of International Law

Washington, D.C. - Jared Genser, attorney for imprisoned USAID sub-contractor Alan Gross, today issued the following comments:

According to wire service reports, Ms. Josefina Vidal, head of North American Affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry held a press conference this afternoon.

She stated the Government of Cuba had received notification from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that it was holding Alan Gross in violation of international law.  This independent and impartial body at the United Nations – which consists of experts from Chile, Norway, Pakistan, Senegal, and Ukraine – issues written judgments considering the evidence presented both by petitioners alleging arbitrary detention and the governments detaining them.  In this case, we submitted the petition to the United Nations on behalf of Alan Gross on August 7, 2012. 

The Government of Cuba has talented lawyers working for its Foreign Ministry and they submitted a 34-page response with 25 footnotes that vigorously disputed our assertions that Cuba is violating provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty that it signed.  It seems the Government of Cuba was informed today it lost the case and its ongoing detention of Alan Gross is in violation of international law.

Under the procedures of the Working Group, the Government is given a two-week preview of the written opinion before it is provided to the petitioner.  Therefore, we have not yet seen the written judgment and were surprised to learn the Government of Cuba held a press conference to announce it had lost its case.
I call on the Government of Cuba to release the judgment of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention so that the international community can see what the United Nations has itself said.  Contrary to Ms. Vidal's assertions of the irrelevance of this opinion, it is obvious the Government of Cuba wanted to win this case to vindicate what it had claimed all along – that it was justified in detaining Alan Gross.  Indeed, if this United Nations body was so irrelevant, then why spend any time bothering to respond to our petition? 

In accordance with this judgment, the Government of Cuba should immediately release Alan Gross from prison and allow him to return to the United States to be reunited with his wife Judy and their two daughters.  Regardless, however, of the outcome of this case, Alan's health is declining and it has long been clear he should be immediately released on humanitarian grounds.

Claims by Ms. Vidal that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention violated its procedures and ruled faster than allowable under pressure from the United States are specious and demonstrably insulting to the professional and independent jurists who serve on the panel.  The procedures of the Working Group are publicly available and very clear.  Upon submission by a petitioner, a government is given 60 days to respond and may request up to a 30-day extension.  We submitted our petition on August 7, 2012, and the Government of Cuba responded on November 9, 2012. 

Under the Working Group's procedures, the case is heard during its next forthcoming session, which occurs every four months.  It so happened that the next session of the Working Group had been scheduled for November 14-23, 2012.  Therefore, this case was adopted in full compliance with the Working Group's standard procedures.