Cuba: Judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)

Urgent Appeal
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CUB 001 / 1015 / OBS 090
Judicial harassment / Arbitrary detention
October 28, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cuba.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero and Ismael Bonet Reñé as well as Ms. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas, also member of the Ladies in White, a peaceful protest group founded by female relatives of Cuban political prisoners.

According to the information received, on September 20, 2015, the three human rights defenders, along with other activists, were arrested while trying to approach Pope Francis in his car in Havana on his way to the mass he was giving, and dragged away by security personnel at Havana’s Revolution Square. Their intention was apparently to raise awareness over human rights violations and the increasing repression against Ladies in White, UNPACU, and other groups in Cuba. As of issuing this urgent appeal, the three human rights defenders would still be detained.

The Observatory would like to recall that these arbitrary detentions are part of genuine wave of political and social repression that led to several “preventive detentions” [1] that took place around Pope Francis’ visit, and at least 882 in September, as denounced by Cuban human rights organisations. Activists have been arrested and detained by the authorities to prevent them from attending papal ceremonies.

The Observatory urges the Cuban authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and Ms. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas as well as all human rights defenders currently held in detention, since their detention only aims at sanctioning their human rights activities aimed at protecting and defending freedom of expression.

The Observatory more generally calls upon the Cuban authorities to put an end to the continuing harassment, including at the judicial level, against the above-mentioned human rights defenders and to protect and respect the right to freedom of expression.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Cuba asking them to:

i. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and Ms. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas as well as of all human rights defenders in the country;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and Ms. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas as well as of all human rights defenders in Cuba;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with:

• article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels",
• article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;,
• as well as article 12.2, which provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

iv. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by Cuba.


• Mr. Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State of Cuba, La Habana, Cuba, Código Postal 10400, Fax: + 53 7 8333085 (through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), E-mail:
• Dr. Darío Delgado Cura, Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba, Avenida 1ra, No. 1801 e/ 18 y 20. Reparto Miramar, municipio Playa, CP 11 300, La Habana, Cuba, Tel: +53 7 206 9090.
• Mr. Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Calle G, No. 360 Vedado, Plaza de la Revolución La Habana, Cuba, Fax:+ 53 7 836 4500, 8333 085, E-mail:
• General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, Minister of Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba, Fax: + 53 7 855 6621 + 53 7 8301 566, Correo- E:
• Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations in Geneva, 100 chemin de Valérie, 1292 Chambésy, Fax: + 41 22 758 9431 E-mail:
• Embassy of Cuba in Brussels, 77 rue Roberts Jones, 1180 Uccle, Belgium, Fax : + 32 2 344 9661, E-mail:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cuba in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, October 28, 2015

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail:
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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