Civil Rights Defenders Requests Immediate Release of Imprisoned Cuban Journalist
Cuban journalist Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, who recently contributed to Civil Rights Defenders’ call for texts on the policy of the European Union towards Cuba, was detained by Cuban police on 11 September. The arrest follows a court ruling on 7 August, when Quiñones was sentenced to one year in prison for exercising his job as a journalist. Civil Rights Defenders urges Cuba to respect his human rights and release him from prison.
The case of Quiñones, who is a contributor to the independent news website CubaNet, represents a clear example of the Cuban government’s disregard for the civil and political rights of its citizens.
The charges against him are based on events that took place on 22 April, when he was detained by authorities for five days to stop him from covering a trial of public interest. During his detention he was subjected to violence and torture by the police. Following his release, Cuban authorities initiated criminal proceedings against him. On 7 August, he was sentenced by the Municipal Court of Guantánamo to one year in prison for the alleged crimes of “resistance” and “disobedience”. Quiñones appealed the sentence as he considered it a violation of his human rights, but the appeal was later rejected.
“Civil Rights Defenders urges the EU to bring the case of Quiñones to the human rights dialogue between the EU and Cuba taking place on 3 October, and to request his immediate release. Civil Rights Defenders also calls on the EU to take Quiñones’ case as a starting point for an open and formal dialogue with the Cuban independent civil society on how the EU can contribute to the protection of human rights in Cuba”, says Erik Jennische, Latin America Programme Director, Civil Rights Defenders.
“The EU has failed to facilitate such a dialogue during both the negotiation and implementation of the criticized Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Cuba. The case of Quiñones is particularly important as he openly wants to contribute to the EU’s policy towards Cuba”, Jennische adds.
Article 19 has organised a petition (in Spanish), condemning the arrest of Quiñones, and demanding the Cuban State to adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, as well as of conscience and speech of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society in general.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also condemned the detention and conviction of Quiñones and has reiterated its concerns regarding freedom of expression in Cuba. As stated by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, the number of acts of violence committed by state agents against journalists, activists and human rights defenders has increased.
Civil Rights Defenders calls on the Cuban government to immediately and unconditionally release Quiñones, and ensure that his civil and political rights are guaranteed. We furthermore urge the EU to see to this case in the ongoing dialogue with Cuba, and put pressure on the government to protect the rights of the Cuban citizens.