How the courts can be used to force the EU to suspend its agreement with Cuba’s dictatorship

Cuba’s communist regime has never abided by the human rights requirements in its cooperation agreement with the European Union and the EU has chosen not to enforce them. But there may be a way to compel them.

Yusimi Rodriguez Lopez reports in Diario de Cuba:

Cubans: suspending the agreement between the European Union and the regime is still possible

In DIARIO DE CUBA, Lawyer Edel González Jiménez explains an option that civil society has not employed.

If the November 2023 visit to Cuba by EU (European Union) Special Representative Human Rights Eamon Gilmore demonstrated anything, it was that the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement signed between Havana and the bloc in 2016 has been futile in achieving democratic advances on the island.

The regime did not refrain from persecuting dissenters during the European official’s stay in Havana, and has continued to do so after his departure. Pressure brought by the EU to persuade Castroism not to trample on the rights of Cubans has been ineffective.

Article 85, Paragraph 3, Letter B of the Agreement establishes a suspension clause in the event of human rights violations. And yet, despite its awareness of Havana’s infractions, the EU has maintained the pact and the financing of administrative structures and organizations unconditionally loyal to the regime.

Calls by Cuban and Europarliament activists for the EU to follow through on what was agreed to and suspend relations with the regime have fallen on deaf ears. Former Cuban judge Edel González Jiménez says that there is a via that civil society has not yet explored, and explains what it consists of, as well as its pros and cons, in an interview with DIARIO DE CUBA.

“There has been a unilateral violation of the Agreement and (the regime of) Cuba has enjoyed impunity. To date the political actions of independent civil society actors in Cuba, and EU politicians and groups of parties, have not been entirely effective, as they have not achieved majorities in the debates. Violations of freedoms and the maintenance of a legal scenario frustrating their exercise continue. These simple elements constitute a breach of an essential part of the Agreement,” the lawyer states.

“The judicial via designed within the framework of the EU, which consists of suing representatives of Union countries and institutions that opt not to enforce essential parts of the Agreement, such as human rights, has not been exhausted.”

“In principle, the EU and its member states cannot interact with states that violate human rights, and even less with States that do not show any intention to change for the better.”

“The suit can be filed by a set of European citizens, including Cubans with dual citizenship, who certify being affected by the persecution on the Island and by the harmful actions or omissions of EU Member States or institutions with respect to the Agreement,” explained the lawyer.

“It can also be filed by European citizens who, without being affected by the human rights violations committed by the Cuban regime, are interested in defending the principles and values enshrined in the founding treaties of the European Union, particularly those mandates established in the EU Treaty,” González Jiménez added.

“Specifically, Article 5 says that ‘in its relations with the rest of the world, the Union shall affirm and promote its values and interests, and contribute to the protection of its citizens.’ It also says that it will contribute to “the eradication of poverty, and the protection of human rights.”

“Therefore, anyone can file a complaint alleging a violation of Article 5 of the EU Treaty, without having to prove that violations of rights in Cuba affect them. What they pursue is that European law not be violated,” said the lawyer.

“The Union is supposed to be a supranational structure promoting law, justice and legality, a reaffirmer of International Law. It is not enough for it to declare it; it must demonstrate it.”

“This precept would be the fundamental argument advanced in the lawsuit before the European Court of Justice, the body responsible for ensuring compliance with such rules. The main aim would be an end to the Agreement, or a moratorium until its fulfillment by the Government of Cuba as regards human rights.”

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