Cuba to allow visit by U.N. torture official
Published June 01, 2012
Cuba pledged Friday to allow a visit by the United Nations' special
rapporteur on torture, whose predecessor tried unsuccessfully to obtain
authorization to visit the Caribbean island.
The jurist and member of the U.N. Committee against Torture, Fernando
Mariño, told Efe that the Cuban delegates who took part in the session
in which the situation in his country was reviewed, "committed
themselves to arranging a visit" by Juan Mendez, though he gave no
If that is done, "there would be an independent, competent international
agency able to travel everywhere prisoners are held and would report
autonomously on what goes on there," he said.
For Cuba it would mean showing "that it has no political fear of a
checkup by foreign organizations."
The U.N. Committee against Torture also said in its report Friday that
it was concerned about the continued complaints of arbitrary arrests for
brief periods in Cuba, practiced against members of the political
opposition, defenders of human rights and independent journalists.
Cuba has denied any such increase in this kind of arrests without a
court order and moreover maintains that there are no political prisoners
on the Communist-ruled island, instead referring to these individuals as
"mercenaries" at the service of the United States.
Cuba has come under heavy criticism from the United States and Europe in
recent years for locking up dissidents, most notably a group of 75
political opponents who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2003.
London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International had adopted all of
the Group of 75 as prisoners of conscience and Havana came under
international pressure to release them after one member, Orlando Zapata,
died following a lengthy hunger strike in February 2010.
After Spanish-backed talks between the Castro regime and the island's
Catholic hierarchy, all of the Group of 75 members still behind bars
were released last year. EFE