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Freedom House Welcomes EU’s Strong Human Rights Stance on Cuba
The European Union Council’s declaration this week on Cuba showed encouraging signs that concern for human rights and democracy will be part of the renewed political dialogue between the two sides.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg agreed to support the advancement of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy in Cuba through a number of important means, including pursuing dialogue with Cuba’s pro-democracy opposition and always addressing human rights issues during high-level visits. Since 1996, the EU’s official policy has been to maintain contacts with Cuban opposition members, but activists say such visits are increasingly rare.
“The EU’s renewed commitment to meeting with opposition leaders and the explicit call on the Cuban government not to impede such visits is an encouraging step,” said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. “Freedom House urges all EU member states to fully and consistently implement the provisions of this declaration, thereby strengthening the EU’s common approach to supporting human rights, fundamental freedoms, and peaceful democratic change in Cuba.”
Freedom House also welcomes the EU Council’s call for the Cuban government to unconditionally release all political prisoners, guarantee freedom of expression and allow citizens to exercise their right to determine their future. It was essential for the Council to reiterate these messages to Havana, which counts its improved relationship with the European Union as one of its key foreign policy successes.
Cuba consistently ranks among the bottom tier of the world’s most repressive regimes, earning it a place in Freedom House’s annual Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies 2009 report. Political rights are nonexistent and civil liberties—including freedoms of expression, movement and association—are tightly controlled.
Cuba is ranked Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, and in the 2009 version of Freedom of the Press.
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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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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.