U.N. Confirms Human Rights Abuses by U.N. Human Rights Council Member-Elect Cuba

Cuban opponents Guillermo Farias (L) and Jose Daniel Ferrer (R) deliver a press conference to announce the merger of the political movements they head, on February 27, 2013 in Havana. AFP PHOTO/ADALBERTO ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP via Getty Images)
ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention wrote in a letter to an NGO revealed Monday that it had found evidence of serial human rights violations, particularly “a systematic problem of arbitrary detentions,” in Cuba against political dissidents.

Cuba was elected in an uncontested race to a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council this year. The communist dictatorship will join the Council in 2021. The NGO U.N. Watch revealed following elections last October that 60 percent of the membership of the Human Rights Council will be made of up repressive dictatorships when the new term begins.

Cuban Prisoners Defenders, a human rights NGO, revealed the response of the U.N. Working Group to its inquiry regarding the events surrounding the arrest and conviction of José Daniel Ferrer, the head of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), last year. UNPACU is believed to be the island’s largest pro-democracy group. The Prisoners Defenders network works to take legal action to bring justice to individuals whose rights communist states have violated.

State security initially arrested Ferrer in October 2019 after organizing a peaceful protest honoring the feast day of Our Lady of Charity, the patroness saint of Cuba. Police disappeared Ferrer into the prison system and, when they finally allowed family to visit, relatives said he showed obvious signs of torture. Ferrer said prison guards attempted to feed him unsanitary food and regularly beat him, causing a massive weight loss and the exacerbation of preexisting health conditions.

Cuban police sentenced Ferrer to four years in prison in April. In response to international pressure, the Castro regime is allowing him to serve under house arrest, which he is doing currently. Ferrer was convicted of “assault” — the state never clarified when or against whom — and the Cuban state insists that he is an ordinary, not political, prisoner.

In a letter responding to a legal complaint on his behalf by Cuban Prisoners Defenders, which the NGO shared with Breitbart News, the United Nations found sufficient evidence to declare that the Communist Party had violated Ferrer’s rights, including specific violations of multiple United Nations human rights statutes. It urged Cuba to allow international investigators into the country if it insisted that the Party was innocent and noted that Cuban diplomats had ignored a request to visit.

The U.N. Working Group demanded Cuba reverse the four-year prison sentence against Ferrer. It did not address the issue of Cuba’s return to the Human Rights Council in less than two months.

The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is part of the U.N.’s Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Cuban Prisoners Defenders called for the removal of all repressive regimes from the Human Rights Council.

“Al Capone cannot be appointed Chief of Police, just as Cuba should not have come to aspire to be on the Human Rights Council as long as it does not respect either these or the treaties that protect human rights,” the NGO said in a statement regarding the latest U.N. statement on Ferrer’s arrest.

The U.N. Working Group confirmed several shocking details of Ferrer’s time as a pro-democracy dissident, among them the fact that Cuban state security have arrested him over 100 times since 2011. Ferrer was also arrested during the “Black Spring” protests of 2003, serving eight years in prison. The 100 arrests occurred after the state deprived him of eight years of his life.

The nature of those arrests, the U.N. confirmed, was “violent, with beatings, threats, and home invasions, stealing [his] personal belongings, including technological and communications material, food, household goods, books, or furniture.”

For his most recent arrest, the U.N. letter stated, Cuban state security sent 60 agents to Ferrer’s home with a court order to arrest him, giving him no clarity as to why he was being detained.

Cuban dissidents often report that police steal their food and basic goods, as the communist country faces severe shortages of both on a regular basis.

It also validated reports by Cuban Prisoners Defenders at the time that Ferrer was subject to routine beatings, had large hematomas around his body, and was forced to drink “fecal” water and rancid food.

The U.N. concluded that Ferrer’s arrest “was used as a tool to limit Ferrer’s peaceful exercise of the fights to freedom of opinion, expression, assembly, association, and participation [in politics], as well as to restrict his activities as a human rights defender and pro-democracy activist.”

The letter also included other forms of intimidation and outrageous manipulation to hurt Ferrer. One such incident involved an individual who was involved in a motorcycle accident.

“Political police presented itself in the hospital where the gentleman involved in the motorcycle accidents was being treated to pressure him to tell a version of events in which his injuries were caused by Mr. Ferrer García,” the U.N. noted, as the accident occurred near the headquarters of UNPACU. “Additionally, neighbors near the UNPACU headquarters had been visited by political police to force them to declare that they had witnessed an alleged fight between the individual and Mr. Ferrer García, which they refused to do.”

The U.N. noted that the Castro regime responded late to a request for an explanation regarding Ferrer’s case. It again requested that Havana allow an investigator to inspect the situation. It also concluded that, from the evidence it possessed, Cuba was systematically violating human rights. The NGO noted that the letter indicated that Cuba violates at least seven of the 11 crimes against humanity mentioned in the Rome Statute on human rights.

“This is not the first case regarding arbitrary deprivation of liberties in Cuba that the Working Group has analyzed in the past few years,” the letter read. “The conclusions … show a systematic problem with arbitrary detentions.”

Cuban Prisoners Defenders is requesting that the United Nations reconsider allowing Cuba on the Human Rights Council.

“There is no binding and authoritative monitoring and reporting mechanism on human rights in Cuba,” the NGO noted, adding, “The fact that the United Nations Human Rights Council includes a State, Cuba, that commits flagrant crimes against humanity … and that it also rejects any mechanism for reporting and monitoring human rights, is born of an evident anomaly in the definition of the Human Rights Council.”

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