국제앰네스티는 쿠바의 탄압적인 법체제로 언론인, 반정부인사 및 활동가들이 강제 체포 당할 위험에 직면하면서 사회적 공포감이 형성되고 있다고 30일 공개한 새 보고서를 통해 밝혔다.이번 보고서 ‘쿠바의 표현의 자유 제한(Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in Cuba)’은 쿠바 법체제 및 정부 관례가 어떻게 언론의 정보 접근권을 제한하고, 수 백명의 비판적 인사들을 구금하고 기소했는지 설명하고 있다.
국제앰네스티 케리 하워드(Kerrie Howard) 미주국 부국장은 “쿠바 법은 그 어떠한 비판 행위도 범죄화 할 수 있을 정도로 모호해서 활동가들이 정부에 반대하는 목소리를 내기가 매우 힘들다”라며 “모든 쿠바인들이 인권을 실질적으로 누릴 수 있도록 하는 개혁이 시급히 필요하다”고 말했다.
쿠바 정부는 언론을 사실상 독점적으로 장악하고 있는 상태이며, 모든 언론인에게 공산당의 통제를 받고 있는 국가언론인협회에 가입하도록 요구하고 있다. 또 쿠바 정부 및 정부의 표현의 자유 제한에 비판적인 내용이 담긴 블로그는 필터를 이용해 접근을 차단하고 있다.
쿠바 정부는 인권보호가 제대로 이루어지지 않고 있는 것이 미국 경제제재의 악영향 때문이라고 주장하고 있다.
하워드 부국장은 “미국의 경제제재가 쿠바에 부정적인 영향을 주는 것은 사실이지만, 솔직히 이는 쿠바인들의 인권침해에 대한 변명치고는 부족하다”라며 “쿠바 정부는 변명대신 인권 침해를 중단하고, 인권을 보호할 해결책을 모색해야 한다”고 말했다.
Restrictions to freedom of expression create climate of fear in Cuba
30 June 2010
Cuba’s repressive legal system has created a climate of fear among journalists, dissidents and activists, putting them at risk of arbitrary arrest and harassment by the authorities, Amnesty International said in a report released on Wednesday.
The report Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in Cuba highlights provisions in the legal system and government practices that restrict information provided to the media and which have been used to detain and prosecute hundreds of critics of the government.
“The laws are so vague that almost any act of dissent can be deemed criminal in some way, making it very difficult for activists to speak out against the government. There is an urgent need for reform to make all human rights a reality for all Cubans,” said Kerrie Howard, Deputy Americas Director at Amnesty International.
Yosvani Anzardo Hernández, the director of the Candonga online newspaper, is one of many Cuban independent journalists who have been arbitrarily arrested, interrogated and intimidated by the authorities.
In September 2009 he was arbitrarily detained for 14 days, before being released without charge. At the time, police also confiscated his computer, which hosted the website, and disconnected his telephone line.
Although Yosvani Anzardo is resigned to not continuing with the site, he still does not understand why it was closed. “We were hoping that the government understood that what we were doing was exercising a right, we didn’t hurt anyone,” said the journalist. “We tried very hard to give information about what was happening in the country. They [the authorities] considered this to be dangerous.”
The Cuban state has a virtual monopoly on media while demanding that all journalists join the national journalists’ association, which is in turn controlled by the Communist Party.
The authorities have also put in place filters restricting access to blogs that openly criticize the government and restrictions on fundamental freedoms.
The Cuban Constitution goes even further in curbing freedom of expression by stating that “[n]one of the freedoms which are recognized for citizens can be exercised contrary to what is established in the Constitution and law, or contrary to the existence and objectives of the socialist state, or contrary to the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism.”
The Penal code specifies a range of vague criminal charges that can also be used to stifle dissent, such as “social dangerousness”, “enemy propaganda”, “contempt of authority”, “resistance”, “defamation of national institutions” and “clandestine printing”.
Provisions of Law 88 on the Protection of National Independence and the Economy of Cuba have also been used to repress criticism and punish dissidents who work with foreign media.
With a judiciary that is neither independent, nor impartial, critics of the government find that an unlimited range of acts can be interpreted as criminal and end up facing trials that are often summary and unfair.
Cuban authorities deny the existence of political prisoners in the country but Amnesty International knows of at least 53 prisoners of conscience who remain incarcerated in the country for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
One of 75 dissidents arrested in the “Black Spring” crackdown in 2003, independent journalist Pablo Pacheco Avila, was sentenced to a 20-year jail term for writing articles for foreign and online newspapers, being interviewed by foreign radio stations, and publishing information via the internet.
Despite some prisoners of conscience being released on health grounds, including Ariel Sigler Amaya in June 2010, most of them, including Pablo Pacheco Avila, are still imprisoned.
The Cuban government has sought to justify its failure to protect human rights by pointing to the negative effects of the embargo imposed by the US.
“It is clear that the US embargo has had a negative impact on the country but it is frankly a lame excuse for violating the rights of the Cuban people,” said Kerrie Howard. “The government needs to find solutions to end human right violations, instead of excuses to perpetrate them.”
Amnesty International called on the Cuban government to revoke or amend legal provisions that unlawfully limit freedom of expression, end harassment of dissidents, release all prisoners of conscience, and allow free exchange of information through the internet and other media.
“The release of all prisoners of conscience and the end of harassment of dissidents are measures that the Cuban government must take immediately and unconditionally,” said Kerrie Howard.
“However, to honour its commitment to human rights, Cuba must also dismantle the repressive machinery built up over decades, and implement the reforms needed to make human rights a reality for all Cubans.”