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Amnesty report slams Cuba

Amnesty report slams Cuba
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3:06 PM Wednesday Jun 30, 2010

Cuba uses repressive laws, a well-oiled state security apparatus and complicit courts to stifle political dissent as it harasses, spies on and imprisons those who openly oppose its communist system, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

The 35-page analysis said restrictions on expressing views deviating from the official line are “systematic and entrenched,” despite the government’s taking “some limited steps to address long-standing suppression of freedom of expression.”

Cuba’s government did not respond to a request for comment. It routinely dismisses international human rights groups as tools of the United States.

Amnesty found that things have not improved since February 2008, when Cuba signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and it blasted official prohibitions on individual liberties in the name of national security and in response to Washington’s 48-year trade sanctions.

“No matter how detrimental its impact, the US embargo is a lame excuse for violating the rights of citizens, as it can in no way diminish the obligation on the Cuban government to protect, respect and fulfill the human rights of all Cubans,” the report said. CCID: 16375

It was compiled using sources on and off the island but contained no firsthand research since Amnesty has been banned from visiting Cuba since 1990.

Cuba’s human rights situation has been tense since the February 23 death of dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, considered by Amnesty International a prisoner of conscience, after a long hunger strike behind bars. Another opposition activist, Guillermo Farinas, has refused to eat or drink since then, though he has received fluids and nutrients intravenously at a hospital near his home in central Cuba.

Both cases drew international condemnation which has softened some since the government reached an agreement with the Roman Catholic Church to transfer political prisoners held far from their families to facilities closer to home, and to give better access to medical care for inmates who need it.

That led to the transfer of seven prisoners and the release for health reasons of Ariel Sigler, who became a paraplegic while imprisoned. All were among 75 activists, community organizers and journalists who defy island controls on media arrested in a crackdown on organized dissent in March 2003.

The Amnesty report noted that through the decades, “hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been imprisoned in Cuba for the peaceful expression of their views.”

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10655517&ref=rss

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