Head of state and government: Fidel Castro
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: not signed
UN Women's Convention: ratified with reservations
Optional Protocol to UN Women's Convention:
Overview - Covering events from January
- December 2005
: Prisoners of conscience
: Restrictions on freedom of
expression, association and movement
Restrictions on freedom of expression,
association and movement continued to cause
great concern. Nearly 70 prisoners of conscience
remained in prison. The US embargo continued
to have a negative effect on the enjoyment
of the full range of human rights in Cuba.
The economic situation deteriorated and
the government attempted to suppress private
entrepreneurship. More than 30 prisoners
remained on death row; no one was executed.
There was increasing international concern
about Cuba's failure to improve civil and
political rights. In April, in a highly
politicized process, the UN Commission on
Human Rights condemned Cuba once again for
its human rights record.
The government maintained a tight control
on those who criticized it, and detained
several human rights defenders and political
dissidents. However, in May the Assembly
to Promote Civil Society - a coalition of
more than 350 independent non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) - held an unprecedented
meeting of dissidents in Cuba.
The authorities launched an energetic campaign
to tackle informal economic activities and
widespread corruption in the state sector.
Prisoners of conscience
Prisoners of conscience continued to be
arrested and sentenced for their peacefully
held views. Some were released for health
- René Gómez Manzano and
Julio César López Rodríguez
were detained, along with several others,
in the capital Havana after participating
in a peaceful anti-government demonstration
on 22 July. René Gómez Manzano,
a member of the Assembly to Promote Civil
Society, and eight others remained imprisoned
- On 13 July around 20 people were detained
while participating in a peaceful event
in Havana. They were commemorating the
"13 de Marzo" tugboat disaster
of 1994, in which some 35 people were
killed while attempting to flee Cuba when
their boat was reportedly rammed by the
Cuban authorities. Six remained in detention
without charge and one was sentenced to
one year's imprisonment for "peligrosidad
predelictiva" defined as "a
person's special proclivity to commit
offences as demonstrated by conduct that
is manifestly contrary to the norms of
- Prisoner of conscience Mario Enrique
Mayo Hernández, sentenced to 20
years' imprisonment in 2003, was conditionally
released on health grounds on 1 December.
Restrictions on freedom
of expression, association and movement
Human rights activists, political dissidents
and trade unionists were harassed and intimidated.
Such attacks were frequently perpetrated
by quasi-official groups, the rapid-response
brigades, allegedly acting in collusion
with members of the security forces.
Freedom of expression and association continued
to be under attack. All legal media outlets
were under government control and independent
media remained banned. Independent journalists
faced intimidation, harassment and imprisonment
for publishing articles outside Cuba. Human
rights defenders also faced intimidation
and politically motivated and arbitrary
The laws used to arrest and imprison journalists,
relating to defamation, national security
and disturbing public order, did not comply
with international standards. According
to the international NGO Reporters Without
Borders, 24 journalists were imprisoned
at the end of 2005.
- Oscar Mario González Pérez,
an independent journalist, was arrested
on 22 July after covering a demonstration.
He remained in prison without charge.
Dissidents continued to face restrictions
when attempting to travel abroad.
- Miguel Sigler Amaya, a member of the
unofficial Alternative Option Movement
(Movimiento Independiente Opción
Alternativa), was detained at Havana International
Airport when he and his family were about
to board a plane to the USA even though
they had exit visas as political refugees.
He and his family were released several
days later and finally left Cuba on 5
October. Miguel Sigler Amaya's brothers,
Guido and Ariel, both prisoners of conscience,
continued to serve sentences of 20 and
25 years respectively.
- In December, representatives of Ladies
in White (Las Damas de Blanco), a group
of prisoners' female relatives who had
marched every Sunday since March 2003
demanding the release of their husbands,
brothers and sons, were not given official
permission to travel to attend the award
ceremony in Strasbourg, France, to receive
the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize
for Freedom of Thought.
Prisoners of conscience - 71 longing for
(AI Index: AMR 25/002/2005)