Cuba's Signing of Human Rights Treaties a First Step in Long Road Toward Compliance | Freedom House

Cuba's Signing of Human Rights Treaties a First Step in Long Road Toward Compliance

Washington, D.C.
Cuba’s recent signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is welcome news, but the country must now implement the rights outlined in the treaties, Freedom House said today.

“The fact that the Cuban government has finally signed the ICCPR and ICESCR is a positive step and demonstrates an interest in international human rights standards,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “However, the Cuban government has imprisoned hundreds of people simply for speaking their minds, and we will wait to see concrete actions before heralding actual policy change on the part of the Cuban leadership.”

Cuban leaders announced that they would sign the ICCPR and ICESCR on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2007, and finally did so on February 28, 2008. The ICCPR outlines, inter alia, individual rights to liberty and security, and the ICCPR states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.” Freedom of expression, association and assembly are also outlined in the ICCPR.

According to Freedom in the World 2008, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, political dissent is a punishable offense in Cuba. Freedom of the press is tightly curtailed; the independent media is considered illegal by the state and is the object of a targeted campaign of intimidation. It is illegal for Cubans to connect to the internet in their homes. Additionally, the unauthorized assembly of more than three persons, including those for private religious services in private homes, is punishable by law with up to three months in prison and a fine.

“Numerous countries which also abuse basic human rights, such as Belarus, Iran and Kazakhstan, have also signed the ICCPR but have shown little inclination to undertake changes in their systems that reflect the true spirit of these conventions,” said Ms. Schriefer. “It is our sincere hope that Cuba’s leaders will take a different and more positive course in regards to implementation.”

Cuba is ranked Not Free in the 2008 edition of Freedom in the World, as well as in the 2007 version of Freedom of the Press.  For more information, visit:

Freedom in the World 2007: Cuba
Freedom of the Press 2007: Cuba

Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Cuba since 1972.


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