Thursday, March 30, 2023

Rights groups say Cuba’s new penal code is tough on dissent

HAvana ( Associated Press) – Cuba’s parliament has approved a new penal code that officials say modernizes the country’s laws but human rights groups warn there are already strict limits on dissent.

The law approved on Sunday strictly controls unauthorized contacts with foreign organizations and individuals and explicitly prohibits foreign financing.

Supreme Court President Rubén Remigio Ferro called it “a modern, very inclusive code”, telling state television that it supports “prevention and education before repression” while “crimes affecting social peace and our stability.” against” with sufficient rigor. Nation.”

It will take effect after a draft is sent to the commission and then published in the Official Gazette.

The Cuban authorities have never had trouble punishing dissent, which they see as dangerous. Hundreds of people were arrested for protesting across the island in July 2021 and some were sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges such as treason: independent journalists have sometimes been jailed on various charges. , often opting to leave the island eventually.

Under the new law, those providing information to international organisations, associations or even persons who are liable to be sentenced – even death in extreme cases – can be punished by the government. has not been authorized.

This eliminates the ambiguous, widespread term of “pre-criminal dangerousness” that was sometimes used against dissidents, but creates new categories of crimes.

Those who insult or attack officials or civilians performing their “civil duty” can face up to five years in prison. A similar sentence could be imposed on those “instigating” against the socialist system – and 10 years for those using the communication media to do so.

Most under question is the ban on any unauthorized financing from international or domestic sources that contributes to the commission of the crime. This clause does not affect remittances from Cubans living abroad.

“With the new penal code, the Cuban authorities continue to build a complex and distorted legal system of censorship and a devastating blow to independent journalists and outlets,” said Ana Cristina Nez, senior researcher in Latin American and Caribbean for New York. he said. Committee based for the protection of journalists.

The new code strengthens the penalties for corruption, speculation and hoarding.

Despite some complaints, it maintains the potential death penalty for 23 offenses – although this has not been implemented since 2003 – and adds in sentences when the offenses involve sexual violence or crimes against minors and people with disabilities. .

The age of criminal responsibility is 16 years.

The legislation is “a more direct way to arm itself against civil society, against political dissent,” said Sally Gonzalez, a key activist in overseeing the 2021 protests.

Lawmakers refused to include a measure, backed by former President Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariella Castro, to make femicide and explicit crime. Another deputy, Teresa Amarel, leader of the Federation of Cuban Women, said it was not needed because of the new stringent punishment against gender violence.


Nation World News Desk
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