Human Rights Group Estimates At Least 71 Political Prisoners In Cuba

The dissident group  Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) estimates that there are at least 71 people imprisoned on the Island for “political reasons or through politically directed procedures,” almost half the number documented a year ago.

The organizations says that the total prison population in Cuba is between 60,000 and 70,000 people, the highest number in Latin America on a per capita basis, given the 11 million inhabitants of the country, and they suggest there may be more imprisoned on political grounds.

The statement, signed by CCDHRN spokesperson  Elizardo Sanchez, acknowledged that the number of prisoners of conscience in Cuba has decreased and is now far from the 15,000 of 50 years ago; but warns of the risk that these data may change. 

“The risk of increasing the number of such prisoners remains dormant since the regime continues to criminalize the exercise of all civil and political rights and other fundamental rights through an archaic Penal Code which, in its origins, was a mere copy, quasi-plagiarized, of that of the former Soviet Union,” Sanchez said.

The organization denounces the fact that many political prisoners are in jail under the legal concept of pre-criminal social dangerousness, an “unlawful monstrosity” according to the CCDHRN, which indicates that the people interned “are essentially innocent” and that the actions imputed to them do not constitute crimes, but are based on a “simple police presumption.”

“The risk of increasing the number of such prisoners remains dormant since the regime continues to criminalize the exercise of all civil and political rights”

This presumption by the authorities leads to “very summary trials, in which there is no need for proof through oral or material evidence or documentation of any other kind.”

The CCDHRN also recalls the case of the eleven former prisoners of conscience from the Group of 75 — imprisoned during the crackdown of the  Black Spring of 2003 – released on parole but prevented from leaving the country.

They also demand the release “on humanitarian grounds” of 21 prisoners for “crimes against the state” carrying between 12 and 23 years in prison in “extreme conditions.”

The CCDHRN is the only organization in Cuba that undertakes a counting of political prisoners in the country; although they admit that counting an exhaustive list is very difficult because the Cuban government is “closed and opaque” and only “a handful of senior officials know the exact numbers.”

The Government of Cuba considers the dissidents “counter-revolutionaries” and “mercenaries.”

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