On September 21, 2018, the U.N. Human Rights Council held a meeting in its 39th regular session. An important item on the agenda was the final review of the latest Universal Periodic Reviews of the human rights records of three more states, including Cuba.
Just before this session, the Council provided an Addendum to Cuba’s national report that listed its responses to the 339 recommendations that had been made by other U.N. Members and Stakeholders. Of these 339 recommendations, Cuba had “supported” (accepted or noted) 309, and rejected 30 in the following categories
|Improve freedoms of assembly & association||13.0|
|End arbitrary detentions||4.0|
|Release prisoners of conscience||3.0|
|Recognize rights of political activists||2.0|
|Respect independent media||2.0|
|Allow independent monitoring of detention||1.5|
|Establish independent judiciary||1.5|
|Allow complaints to treaty bodies||1.0|
|Allow multiparty elections (U.S.)||1.0|
|End coercive labor||0.5|
|Increase laws against human trafficking||0.5|
Cuba’s Ambassador, Pedro Pedrosa, made introductory and concluding statements that included the following comments:
- Cuba had rejected 30 of the recommendations because they were “politically skewed” and some reflected the “hegemonic ambitions of some [the U.S.] to undermine Cuban systems.” He also condemned the U.S. embargo (blockade) as a “massive, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights.”
- For Cuba, ratification of an international treaty is a “very serious process” and is never made under pressure, again referring to the “hostile policies of the U.S. against the Cuban people.”
- Cuba is against the death penalty and has not had an execution since 1923. However, it needs to keep the death penalty because of terrorism.
- Cuba has a “system of independent courts to insure “ respect for human rights.
- In 2017 Cuba welcomed two international human rights monitors (human trafficking and international solidarity).
- Cuba calls for democracy and international governance of the Internet and the end of the digital divide and monopolies of these technologies.
- Cuba is proud of the accomplishments of its Revolution and its contributions to the broadening of human rights.
- Reforms in Cuba can only happen with true international and impartial cooperation.
- The UPR process should not be a forum for attacks or proposals by foreign powers [U.S.].
- Cuba rejects “rash” comments at this session by the World Evangelical Alliance and the Christianity Global Solidarity because they ignore the Cuban reality of religious freedom and right to change religion. Nevertheless, he invited these organizations to visit Cuba.
- He also criticized the comments from Amnesty International and U.N. Watch.
 U.N. Hum. Rts. Council, Documentation (39th Regular Session). Previous posts about the current (and other) Cuba UPRs are listed in the “Cuban Human Rights” section of List of Posts to dwkcommentaries.com—Topical: CUBA.
 U.N. Hum. Rts. Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Cuba: Addendum (Sept. 18, 2018) (views on conclusions and/or recommendations, voluntary commitments and replies presented by the State under review).
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Other Reports on the Recent Human Rights Council’s Discussion of Cuban Human Rights
Diario de Cuba has published two reports about the September 21 consideration of Cuba’s UPR by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The first added comments by the Cuban Ambassador, who .said the accepted proposals are “in the process of being implemented or are part of the future priorities” of the regime. The rejected recommendations, on the other hand, are those that Havana considers “biased politically, built on bases that do not conform to reality” and that several of them were intended to “discredit” the country and deny “the right of self-determination of the Cuban people and the diversity of political systems” in the world.”
The Ambassador also said that the UPR should not be allowed to become a space “used by some” to listen to “false allegations of those who are mercenaries paid by a foreign power”, in a veiled allusion to the organizations of Cuban civil society not attached to the regime.
The second report provided details about the comments by the following three non-governmental organizations.
Amnesty International. Marianne Lilliebjerg, of AI accused Havana of offering a belated response to the recommendations made by countries such as Canada, the US, Japan and members of the European Union. She also claimed that the Cuban government “continues to use invented charges for common crimes and politically motivated dismissal as a way to silence critics of the government. We are particularly concerned about Decree 349, ” a new law that will allow the State to sanction artists and promote censorship.”
Although she welcomed the acceptance by Havana of the recommendations to ensure full compliance with the so-called “Mandela rules.” she criticized his refusal to allow independent inspectors access to their prisons.
She also regretted that the island is the only country in Latin America that is closed to AI and took the opportunity to make a formal request to visit Cuba, shortly after the Cuban ambassador said, “Our country will not accept monitors, Amnesty International will not enter Cuba, we do not need your advice.”
The NGO also recalled that “Cuba rejected multiple recommendations to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and harmonize its criminal laws with international law.” In addition, she criticized Cuba’s censorship and restrictions on the independent press, education and internet access. She specifically denounced Cuba’s detention of Eduardo Cardet, who has been declared a prisoner of conscience by the organization.
World Christian Solidarity. Claire Denman, on behalf of CSW, warned of reports of a “constant increase in the number of violations of freedom of belief.” in Cuba.” The proposed new constitution was criticized: “While Article 15 of this Constitution nominally guarantees religious freedom, it does not extend to freedom of conscience and does not guarantee the rights of individuals and institutions to manifest their faith or lack of faith, whether in public or in private.” He also refered to recent arrests of Ladies in White members.
U.N. Watch. It criticized the way Cuba flooded the UPR process with favorable comments from NGOs, such as Cuban Federation of Canine Sports, Meteorological Society of Cuba, Cuban Society of Philosophical Investigations, Cuban Federation of Underwater Activities, Cuban Society of Urology, Cuban Society of Friends of the Equidae, Cuban Society of Cowboys of Rodeo.”
The Cuban government denies to the UN the absence of political rights on the island, Diario de Cuba (Sept. 21, 2018), http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1537547298_41992.html
In evidence before the UN, this is ow several NGOs leave the Cuban regime, Diario de Cuba (Sept. 22, 2018), http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1537561745_41997.html