Reporters Without Borders condemns Castro regime’s increasing harassment of Cuban independent journalists
Independent journalists hounded and arrested, while Granma reporter get 14 years on spying charge
Reporters Without Borders condemns a worrying increase in harassment of dissidents in recent months, which has yet again contradicted the intentions manifested by the Cuban government when signing two United Nations human rights agreements in 2008.
Neither of these agreements – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – has yet been ratified.
“The hopes raised by the release of the ‘Black Spring’ prisoners in 2010 are fading,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This renewed crackdown should be condemned by the international community, especially the Latin American countries, which must put human rights and freedom of information at the centre of their relations with Cuba as it seeks regional integration.”
Reporters Without Borders has also learned that José Antonio Torres, a correspondent for the government newspaper Granma in Santiago, Cuba’s second largest city, is considering the possibility of appealing against his conviction on a charge of spying but fears that his sentence could be increased if he does.
Arrested in 2011 after writing articles about mismanagement of a Santiago aqueduct project and the installation of fibre-optic cable between Venezuela and Cuba, Torres was sentenced in July to 14 years in prison and withdrawal of his university degree in journalism.
Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, a journalist with the independent Hablemos Press news agency, began a hunger strike six days ago in protest against conditions in Valle Grande prison, to which he was transferred on 10 November.
Arrested on 16 September after writing about a cholera and dengue epidemic before the government had issued any statement on the subject, he is facing a sentence of up to three years in prison on a charge of insulting the president.
Commenting on the case, Reporters Without Borders said: “Martínez has been detained for too long. We call on the Cuban authorities to release this journalist, who was just doing his duty to report the news.”
Hablemos Press journalists have repeatedly been the victims of threats and arbitrary detention in the course of the crackdown of the past few months.
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