The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has paid special attention to the human rights situation in Cuba and, in the use of its competence, has observed and evaluated the human rights situation in special reports260, in Chapter IV of the Annual Report261, and through the case system.262 In addition, on several occasions it has asked the Cuban State to adopt precautionary measures for the purpose of protecting the life and personal integrity of Cuban citizens.263
On January 31, 1962, the Government of Cuba was excluded from participating in the inter-American system by Resolution VI adopted at the Eighth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Punta del Este (Uruguay).264 On June 3, 2009, during its Thirty-ninth Regular Session held in Honduras, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) set aside Resolution VI adopted at the Eighth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and established that “the participation of the Republic of Cuba in the OAS will be the result of a process of dialogue initiated at the request of the Government of Cuba, and in accordance with the practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS.”
The IACHR has recognized that the Cuban State – including in the time of exclusion – is “juridically answerable to the Inter-American Commission in matters that concern human rights” since it “is party to the first international instruments established in the American hemisphere to protect human rights” and because Resolution VI of the Eighth Meeting of Consultation “excluded the present Government of Cuba, not the State, from participation in the inter-American system.”265
Having evaluated the human rights situation in Cuba, the IACHR decided to include that country in this chapter because, in its view, it meets the criterion under Article 59, paragraph 6(a)(i) of the IACHR’s new Rules of Procedure, which took effect on August 1, 2013. That provision concerns “a serious breach of the core requirements of representative democracy mentioned in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which are essential means of achieving human rights, including”: “there is discriminatory access to or abusive exercise of power that undermines or denies the rule of law, such as systematic infringement of the independence of the judiciary or lack of subordination of State institutions to the legally constituted civilian authority”. Also, it meets the criterion under Article 59, paragraph 6(c) which refers to “The State has committed or is committing massive, serious and widespread violations of human rights guaranteed in the American Declaration, the American Convention, or the other applicable human rights instrument”. Accordingly, the IACHR will recount the activities carried in 2014 with reference to Cuba, analyze the human rights situation in that country, identify best government practices and make recommendations.
The restrictions on the political rights to association, freedom of expression, and dissemination of ideas, the lack of elections, the lack of an independent judiciary, and the restrictions on freedom of movement over decades have come to shape a permanent and systematic situation of violation of the human rights of the inhabitants of Cuba. In the course of 2014, the information available suggests that the general human rights situation has not changed. The above-indicated human rights situations, as well as severe repression and restrictions of human rights defenders persist. Also, the IACHR received information on violence and discrimination against LGTBI and persons with disabilities in Cuba.
In preparing this report, the Commission has obtained information from international agencies, civil society organizations, and the Cuban government via the official web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba. The Commission notes the scarcity of information available on human rights in Cuba from sources both on the island or abroad.
On January 6, 2015, the Commission sent this report to the State of Cuba and asked for its observations. The State did not respond.
II. ECONOMIC SANCTIONS
On December 17, 2014, the Governments of the United States and of Cuba announced their decision to adopt several bilateral measures, including the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, which had been suspended since 1961. Other measures announced include the facilitation of an expansion of travel from the United States to Cuba, as well as authorization of expanded sales and exports of certain goods and services. By press release date December 19, 2014, the IACHR welcomed the announcement as a sign of strengthening of relations between two Member States of the OAS, and hopes that such measures will benefit the population of both countries.266
The IACHR also indicated that it hopes that the recent decision by the Cuban Government is followed by more measures to open up the country to international presence, including by human rights monitoring bodies, with a view to concrete advances in the protection of its inhabitants. As regards the United States, the IACHR reiterates its position that the economic embargo imposed by this country on Cuba has a negative impact on the human rights of the Cuban population; accordingly, it again calls on the U.S. Congress to lift the embargo, which could happen in the context of the renewed dialogue between both countries. Without prejudice to the foregoing, the economic embargo imposed on Cuba does not release the State of its obligation to carry out its international obligations, nor does it excuse the violations of the American Declaration described in this report.