Despite Engagement, Human Rights Abuses Persist (and Worsen) in Cuba

Monday, June 29, 2015
From the U.S. Department of State's recently-released report on Cuba's human rights practices:

Cuba is an authoritarian state led by Raul Castro, who is president of the council of state and council of ministers, Communist Party (CP) first secretary, and commander in chief of security forces. The constitution recognizes the CP as the only legal party and “the superior leading force of society and of the state.” A CP candidacy commission pre-approved all candidates for the February 2013 uncontested National Assembly elections, which were neither free nor fair. The national leadership, including members of the military, maintained effective control over the security forces.

The principal human rights abuses included those involving the abridgement of the ability of citizens to change the government and the use of government threats, extrajudicial physical assault, intimidation, violent government-organized counter-protests against peaceful dissent, and harassment and detentions to prevent free expression and peaceful assembly.

The following additional abuses continued: short-term, arbitrary unlawful detentions and arrests, harsh prison conditions, selective prosecution, denial of fair trial, and travel restrictions. Authorities interfered with privacy, engaging in pervasive monitoring of private communications. The government did not respect freedom of speech and press, restricted internet access, maintained a monopoly on media outlets, circumscribed academic freedom, and maintained some restrictions on the ability of religious groups to meet and worship. The government refused to recognize independent human rights groups or permit them to function legally. In addition the government continued to prevent workers from forming independent unions and otherwise exercising their labor rights.

Most human rights abuses were committed by officials at the direction of the government. Impunity for the perpetrators remained widespread.