The International Human Rights in Cuban Context

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George Washington University
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The International Human Rights recognizes that people have the freedom to meet and freely interact with others. In addition, it recognizes that people should not be compelled by anyone or anything to belong to a group or association. This means that they have the freedom to form groups and parties that reflect their interests and can therefore leave if they feel that the groups no longer satisfy their needs. This right of peaceful meetings and assemblies is the main foundation of the rights associated with cultural, civil, political, economic, and social rights. This means that they can freely express their dissatisfaction through the groups in one voice. It also facilitates the change of laws that do not serve the interests of the people as a general.

Treaty Law

The Treaty Law are entered by independent countries in the world as such, they must comply with the agreements signed by all the parties. Cuba has been very particular when entering the treat laws as it understands that one family that takes control of all the activities taking place in the country leads it. However, it recognizes the UN treaty laws and absorbs them into their system. For instance:

The freedom to worship

Right to fair court treatment

Right to humane treatment and freedom from slavery

Right to political rights, privacy and religion

States that have signed treaties are mandated to comply with the human rights obligations. The states' parliaments then ratify the treaties and enacted by practice. Since 1972, the Cuban parliament has approved eight international human rights conventions. Regionally, Cuba is party to the Organization of American States (OAS). Cuba has not ratified the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. This situation implies that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights does not have jurisdiction over matters of human rights in Cuba. Notwithstanding, the Commission monitors the state of human rights in Cuba with the aim of protecting the human rights advocacy by always making requests and statements directed to the Cuban government as precautionary steps. This monitoring is possible even though the commission has no jurisdiction in Cuba because it was in existence at the convention and has additional faculties pre-dating and which cannot be one-on-one derived from the conference. These provisions include processing cases involving states not a party to the agreement. The government of Cuba, however, disproves the actions of the commission mandates and has, so far, never been in compliance with its requests. Cuba and other countries in the world have been subjected to the following treaties and have been adopted since 1966 - International Covenant for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (1965), and the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (1966). Others include the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (1966), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), Convention against Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Further, more treaties include the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers & Members of their Families (1990), Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (2006), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). In the Cuban perspective, the most relevant international human rights law is right of association. The people have the right to meet but they have no mandate and power to form political parties that represent their interests.

International Customary Law and Peremptory Norms

The Right to Freedom of Assembly and Association

Article 54 of the Constitution of Cuba has a rather unpopular approach to how this right has been stipulated. The constitution goes straight to explaining who can enjoy the freedom of assembly in Cuba instead of formally stating it as a State right provided for by law. It states that the mass and social organizations have facilities at their exposal to enable them to carry out exercises of the rights of assembly. The law on freedom of association gives a list of organizations or associations allowed by the State; they include technical or scientific, artistic and cultural, solidarity and friendship, and sportive interests. Of particular attention is the fact that there is no mention of human rights organizations. The formalities involved in the procedure of getting an organization to be registered and recognized in Cuba are cumbersome and arbitrary and practically no human rights organization has ever managed to go through the whole process successfully.

In practice, freedom of assembly is curtailed. Peaceful demonstrations have always been disbanded by violent means sometimes. The demonstrators are then subjected to ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions, torture, among other ills. The movements of individuals advocating for human rights, especially, are usually monitored carefully and restricted. Participation in associations or demonstrations is also prevented by the fact that one is required to have a government permit if they decide to move from their original place of residence or birth. There have been some reports about human rights activists being forcefully returned to their original residence after attempting to go to Havana for work or staying (Moeckli, Shah, Sivakumaran, & Harris, 2013).

Cubas parliament has also ratified the ILO (International Labor Organization) conventions. These conventions are based on the freedom of right to collective bargaining and the freedom of association. The new Labor Law has recently recognized the right of workers to associate but not yet realized in practical freely. Trade unions in Cuba are yet to be recognized officially except for the CTC which is the Cuba Workers Union (Moeckli, Shah, Sivakumaran, & Harris, 2013). The CTC has been criticized, however, for being just a puppet being used by the government to lead the workers in Cuba to conforming to the oppressional methods of the government. Numerous independent bodies have been founded to cater for such rights as freedom of association, but their activities or those of their workers have not been recognized by the Law on Association thus rendering them prone to constant arrests and subjects to beatings, imprisonment, and other forms of harassment (Edmonds, 2013).

For the emphasis of the gravity of the issue of association and assembly in Cuba, a closer look needs to be taken into the system. For instance, the government of Cuba launched a massive crackdown on peaceful dissidents, who included teachers, librarians, medical doctors, independent journalists, independent labor unionists, and defenders of human rights. This act saw up to 75 of the dissidents being arrested and convicted for charges attracting between 6 to 28 years in prison (Forsythe, 2012). The Cuban government accused them of intentions to overthrow the current regime, spying for the United States and other international bodies, and reporting lies about the State to international press (Edmonds, 2013). Among the detainees from the crackdown, Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona Vice-president of the Forum for Reform organization was first sentenced to 3 weeks; a sentence which was changed to 26 years in prison after completion of the three weeks. The government of Cuba in another incident detained well over 30 individuals believed to be human rights advocates, these arrests were carried out in the days leading to the international human rights day (Forsythe, 2012).

The shrewd moves and manoUNvres by the government can only be seen as a way to reduce association and assembly within the country with the fear of being outsmarted by the citizens and international organizations. The restrictions are aimed at keeping the government in power and allowing it to continue with its slanderous actions.

Right to Liberty and Security of the Person

The only reason provided for in the deprivation of their liberty is only based on exercising their right to it. Nonetheless, most of detentions and arrests in the island are done basing on legal and constitutional provisions that trace back to the socialist nature of the State. Subsequent punishment may be administered if the exercise is considered as being in contradiction to the state and objectives of the Socialist State as indicated in the constitution. The law in Cuba also allows security measures to proceed in cases where the action of the person is deemed as dangerous to the State. The methodology applied to enforce this law (also known as Dangerousness Law) may include detention disguised as vigilance, therapUNtic, and re-educational measures. These measures may take periods of up to 4 years.

Right to Freedom of Expression

The Cuban constitution recognizes the freedom of speech granted to the citizen and to the press. But this freedom as stipulated in the constitution ha...

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