Torture in Cuba
May 2012
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Posted on Wednesday, 05.23.12

Cuba tells the U.N. it does not torture or abuse

Cuban officials told a U.N. panel on torture that all complaints of

mistreatment were false

By Juan O. Tamayo

The Cuban government put up a stout defense before a U.N. panel on

torture Wednesday, denying "each and every" complaint of mistreatment

but delicately parsing its words when it came to other alleged abuses.

Cuba has no detention centers and no overcrowding, and

not one prison death can be blamed on authorities, a Cuban delegation

told the U.N. Committee Against Torture at a hearing in Geneva, Switzerland.

The denials coincided with the release of a report by human rights

organization Amnesty International that accused Cuba's government of

massive abuses, including arresting, harassing and intimidating hundreds

of peaceful dissidents.

Deputy Attorney General Rafael Pino led the delegation that appeared

before the panel to answer tough questions it posed Tuesday on Cuba's

compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman

or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Cubans answered few of the committee's specific questions, according

to a report on Wednesday's session posted on the by the U.N.

Information Service in Geneva. The report, "Committee Against Torture

hears replies of Cuba," had disappeared from the service's web pages by

Wednesday evening.

Copies of the report showed the Cubans provided no specific details on

the deaths of dissidents Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Wilman Villar or Juan

Wilfredo Soto, for instance, and did not mention the Ladies in White or

Yoani Sánchez.

Instead, they mounted a broad defense of Cuba's human rights record and

dismissed some complaints as the work of the U.S. government "and the

mercenaries who worked for it."

"Each and every complaint brought to the committee on supposed torture

or mistreatment was false," the delegation said. And there's no

overcrowding in the country's prisons, it said.

The Cubans said courts sentenced 46 law enforcement agents to one to

eight years over prison abuses.

Neither neglect nor actions by law enforcement officials caused any

prison deaths, according to the delegation. There were 113 deaths in

prisons and lockups in 2010 and 89 in 2011 — mostly the result

of illnesses, fights or accidents.

The Amnesty International report noted that in 2011 Cuba released the

last of the 75 peaceful dissidents jailed in a 2003 crackdown, and 62

other political prisoners as part of an agreement with the Catholic

Church. But the majority freed were forced to go into exile, it said,

and the government continued to deny Cubans the right to free expression

and association and to control all the mass media.

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