Amnesty Int’l designates 5 Cuban inmates ‘prisoners of conscience’


Amnesty International has called on the Cuban government to immediately release five inmates it has designated prisoners of conscience.

AI, which has its headquarters in New York, said in a release posted on its website Friday, that the cases of Rafael Matos Montes de Oca, Emilio Planas Robert, and brothers Alexeis, Diango and Vianco Vargas Martin are indicative of ongoing repression of freedom of expression on the Communist-controlled Caribbean island.

“The only progress made by the Cuban government has been the reform of the Migration Law earlier this year,” the organization said in calling for their unconditional release. “It allowed many people, including human rights defenders and government critics, to travel abroad. Much more needs to be done to guarantee civil and political liberties in the country.”

AI said Planas Robert and Montes de Oca were found guilty of being dangerous or having a “special proclivity to commit crimes,” even though the group said no evidence was presented against them in court.

“The use of this particular legislation, which allows the government to jail its citizens on the slightest evidence because it believes they may commit a crime in the future, is a flagrant violation of international standards and must be immediately repealed,” AI’s Javier Zuniga said.

“This Orwellian law is being used as a pretext to jail government critics.”

Both men are members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, which advocates for wider civil liberties on the island.

The Vargas Martins are members of UNPACU and are accused by police of using violence or intimidation against a state official, but have not been formally charged.

“Repression of independent journalists, opposition leaders and human rights activists increased last year in Cuba, and show no sign of abating,” Zuniga said.

“In recent months, we have received scores of reports of people who were arbitrarily arrested and even imprisoned on ludicrous charges that violate international standards.”

AI says as of June 30, 2,143 people were reportedly being held on short-term arrests in Cuba.

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