April 27, 2004

Freedom of Information

Human Rights Watch sez...

Cuba: Trial Violates Dissidents’ Right to Free Expression

(New York, April 22, 2004) — Cuba’s planned trial of a blind human rights lawyer, along with nine other dissidents and independent journalists, on charges of “disrespect for authority” demonstrates a continuing pattern of political repression, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch has learned that the trial of the 10 defendants is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, April 27.

Juan Carlos González Leiva, a blind lawyer, is the president of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights (Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos). He and most of the other defendants have been held in pretrial detention in eastern Holguín province for more than two years.  

“The upcoming trial is a travesty,” said Joanne Mariner, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas Division. “The defendants face criminal charges that clearly violate their basic rights to freedom of expression.”  

The defendants were arrested on March 4, 2002 at Antonio Luaces Iraola Provincial Hospital in Ciego de Ávila (a town in central Cuba), and held without formal charges for six months. They are now reportedly being prosecuted for the crimes of disrespect to the President (desacato al Presidente), disrespect to the police, public disorder and resistance.