Cuba rejects UN recommendations on freedom of expression

The Cuban government rejected "guaranteeing freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, as well as the free activity of human rights defenders, independent journalists and those in opposition to the government," from among 292 formulated recommendations by the UN Human Rights Council, according to a Notimex report published in the Diario of Cuba.

The nation also rejected "assuring that the defenders of human rights and independent journalists are not victims of intimidation, lawsuits or arbitrary detention" and "eliminating the laws that impede freedom of expression or not enforcing these laws."

The regime refused to admit the existence of independent media, to improve the public access to information and to free the Internet by "taking advantage of the recent investment in fiber-optic communication on the web."

It also did did not consider putting an end to the use of criminal charges like "pre-criminal danger to society," "contempt" and "resistance," as well as the elimination of detentions of "short duration, harassment and other repressive methods used against defenders of human rights and journalists."

The UN's Universal Periodic Review evaluates the situation of human rights in a country and it is comprised of 47 members of the highest organ of the UN -- which defends the protection of these rights -- that propose their recommendations to the country in question. The state in question announces whether it will voluntarily accept the recommendations of the board or not and which ones are subject to analysis.

In May, Cuba presented a government report before the UN Human Rights Council about the advances and efforts of the state's policies in the area of human rights for submission to the evaluation of its peers, other member countries.

According to the news portal Martí, the Cuban report talked about the state of economic, social and cultural rights in the country, describing a Cuba that, in the context of the situation of civil and political rights in the country, differed a lot from reports made by Cuban activists and a variety of non-governmental international organizations about these topics.

On the other hand, the government of Raúl Castro accepted the recommendations of the Human Rights Council referring to the ratification of international treaties on human rights, like the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among others.

Also, Castro "took note" of those that recommended cooperating with the Special Rapporteurs of the UN that defend subjects such as freedom of expression, human rights and the independence of judges and attorneys.

In the past, the previous commission before the formation of the actual Human Rights Council sent a Special Rapporteur to supervise the situation in Cuba from 1990 to 1998; however, the UN corespondent was never permitted entry to the island. Another Rapporteur on Torture was invited to Cuba but the government never determined a date.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.