Cuba: Dozens of Cuban dissidents "will
be brought to trial"
Following a wave of targeted arrests of dissidents that began on 18 March
2003 in Cuba, Amnesty International is concerned that there may be 77 new
prisoners of conscience on the island, detained for the non-violent exercise
of their rights to freedom of expression and association, the organization
said in a report "Cuba: Massive crackdown on dissent"(AMR 25/008/2003)
"In what appears to have been the biggest crackdown in a decade, independent
journalists, members of human rights groups, political activists and other
perceived dissidents across the country have been detained in a major police
operation," Amnesty International said.
The detainees, who range from well-known dissidents to grassroots-level
activists, remain imprisoned without charge, and the whereabouts of some of
them is unknown.
According to reports, at the time of the arrests security forces searched
homes across the island and confiscated computers, fax machines, typewriters,
books and papers.Those detained could face up to 20 years in prison under
harsh legislation introduced in 1999.
In addition to the detentions, other high profile opposition figures have
been harassed. Plainclothes security agents were apparently posted outside the
homes of among others Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, leader of citizens' initiative
on democratic changes and former prisoner of conscience Elizardo Sánchez
Santacruz, of the CCDHRN, a prominent human rights organization in Cuba.
"Amnesty International seeks immediate explanation from the Cuban
authorities regarding the recent detentions including list of charges against
them as well as the legal grounds on which they will be tried," the
In addition, the international human rights organization urges the Cuba
government to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners
of conscience in Cuba.
"We call on the authorities to reform the Cuban legislation which helps 'legitimise'
the ongoing incarceration of prisoners of conscience by outlawing the exercise
of fundamental freedoms," Amnesty International concluded.
Before the recent crackdown, Amnesty International had already recognised
15 prisoners of conscience in Cuba. With the latest mass arrests, the number
of prisoners of conscience could rise to its highest level in recent years.
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in
London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web: