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Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced Monday human rights violations in Cuba following the July 11 protests last year, such as the incommunicado detention of detainees or “abusive” criminal proceedings.
The NGO investigated during a year more than 155 cases in which it denounced, for example, that “judges and prosecutors, who in Cuba lack independence from the government, facilitated abusive criminal proceedings and participated in them.”
“In most of the documented cases, detainees were held incommunicado for days, weeks or even months, unable to make phone calls or receive visits from family members or lawyers,” HRW added.
The 41-page report notes that “most detainees said they were held in overcrowded and unsanitary cells, with limited or no access to food, medicine, clean water, or protection from COVID-19 infection.”
He adds that the “rapid response brigades,” the name by which groups of civilians organized by the dictatorship are known, were “involved in several beatings.”
“We found that officials repeatedly detained peaceful protesters and arrested critics on their way to demonstrations or barred them from leaving their homes for days or even weeks,” HRW said.
The document details the cases of opposition leader José Daniel Ferrer and artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, among others.
HRW calls on Latin American governments, the United States, the European Union, and others to “unequivocally condemn the repression against demonstrators and critics in Cuba and urge the Cuban government to release all those detained”.
A year ago, the largest protests in decades took place in Cuba, with the main cause being the socialist country’s severe economic crisis.
According to Cuba’s Attorney General’s Office, a total of 790 people have been prosecuted for the July 11 protests, of whom 55 are between 16 and 17 years old. The minimum criminal age in Cuba is 16.
In addition, 27 children under the age of 16 were subjected to “the established legal procedure.”
The NGO Prisoners Defenders, for its part, points out that at least 1,046 people were in prison on the island as of May for political reasons, mostly for the events of July 11.