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Cuba: Authorities Must Release José Daniel Ferrer and Other Political Prisoners
To mark the 100th day of incarceration for José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the dissident organization Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and a prominent human rights defender, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“We reiterate our call for Cuban authorities to immediately and unconditionally release José Daniel Ferrer, the other UNPACU members arrested with him, and all prisoners of conscience,” said Deborah Ullmer, director of Latin America and Caribbean programs at Freedom House. “The continued detention of this high-profile human rights advocate on false charges is unacceptable. The Cuban regime’s brazen mistreatment of Ferrer, including isolation, torture, and denial of access to legal counsel, offers further proof that the country’s recent constitutional changes were a purely cosmetic attempt to disguise ongoing government repression. Since the new charter took effect last April, the Cuban regime has continued to tighten its restrictions on independent voices in the face of economic distress and increased popular discontent.”
In February 2019, the Cuban government secured approval of a new constitution through a carefully controlled referendum, lauding the changes as an expansion of political rights and civil liberties for Cuban citizens. The charter included institutional restructuring and decentralization, the introduction of presidential term limits, and the right to legal counsel, among other provisions. However, it also confirmed the Communist Party’s monopoly on political power, and since its implementation, the Cuban government has only increased repression of dissent voices on the island.
José Daniel Ferrer is a founder of UNPACU, an organization that works to achieve democratic change in Cuba through peaceful means. He and six other UNPACU members were arrested on October 1, following a police raid on Ferrer’s home and the organization’s headquarters. Today marks the 100th day of unlawful detention for Ferrer and three others.
Amnesty International previously recognized Ferrer as a prisoner of conscience while he was jailed from 2003 to 2011 as part of the government’s crackdown on dissidents known as the Black Spring. According to the advocacy group Cuban Prisoners Defenders, the regime continues to hold at least 125 political prisoners. By detaining these individuals based on the peaceful exercise of their human rights, the Cuban government is violating international law and universal human rights principles.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.