Cuban opposition says repression continues

August 13th, 2008 - 1:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Havana, Aug 13 (IANS) Cuba’s outlawed rights body has said repression of freedom of expression continues in the country and expressed apprehension that improvement in the situation is “unlikely in near future”, EFE reported Wednesday. A communique released by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) said: “Nothing fundamental has changed in terms of human rights or political, economic or cultural rights after government leadership changed hands”.

Fidel Castro, who turned 82 Wednesday, formally handed over office last February to his brother Raul due to ill health.

CCDHRN chief and former political prisoner Elizardo Sanchez said as of the end of last month there were 219 known political prisoners, adding that the number of political prisoners in the country “is one of the highest in the world in relative figures”.

He said the actual number of prisoners were much higher than those in the published list because of the “secretive nature of the totalitarian regime that allows no oversight, domestic or international, inside the vast system of jails and ‘re-education’ camps”.

The document however described as “positive” the government’s decision to commute the death penalty for several convicts, but criticised the authorities for not revealing the number of convicts benefited by the decision.

With respect to Cuba’s recent signing of two UN pacts on human rights, the body insisted they be ratified as soon as possible and without reserve, as an “unmistakable sign of political good will” on the part of the government.

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