Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday, 1 May 2013 (Afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Cuba
Represented by 22-member delegation headed by Mr. Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Cuba page on the UPR website.

Troika *

Thailand, Guatemala, Montenegro.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Cuba page on the UPR Extranet)

  • The head of delegation stated that the economic, political and media blockade imposed by the United States was a “mass flagrant and systematic violation of human rights”; the attempts by the United States to impose a “change of regime” on the Cuban people was a serious violation of its right to self-determination;
  • Significant economic and social change has taken place since Cuba’s first UPR back in 2009; the country has moved forward in the process of institutional development and has continued to improve citizens’ participation and efforts to achieve a sustainable development with social justice;
  • One of the most  important developments occurred since the last UPR was the adoption of the National People’s Power Assembly of the Guidelines for the Economic and Social Policy of Cuba;
  • New standards have been adopted that expanded human rights’ legal framework such as those related to social security, housing, employment, self-employment, and the distribution of land, among others;
  • One of the most outstanding achievements has been the amendments introduced to the Migration Law which had a major impact on and improved the relations between the Cuban national and its émigrés;
  • Cuba ensured that every boy, girl and adolescent had the possibility and the right to study in the National Education System on the basis of equal opportunities; according to UNESCO’s recent World Report on the Follow Up to Education for All (2012), Cuba ranked 16th in the world for its educational development index;
  • Cuba also had outstanding results and a high quality public health system, which was universal and free; from 2009 to 2011 the social security system provided coverage for 19,371 mothers of children with severe disabilities; the attention paid to the elderly was also a priority;
  • The Government was deeply concerned about the “legal limbo” that supported the human rights violations at the illegal Naval Base on Guantánamo; 166 persons have remained under detention for ten years without guarantees, and 100 of them have gone on a hunger strike, of these 17 whose lives are at risk; the Minister called for the prison and military base to be shut down and that the territory be returned to Cuba; 
  • Cuba recognized, respected and guaranteed religious liberty without any discrimination and citizens’ rights to freedom of opinion, expression, information and press were recognized;
  • In Cuba equality and non-discrimination was fully guaranteed and the government continued to implement a series of laws, policies and programmes aimed at upholding those principles; Cuba ranked second in the world in terms of the number of women parliamentarians;
  • Progress has also been made in combatting discrimination based on sexual orientation; the National Sexual Education Programme has implemented a permanent educational strategy to promote respect for free sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Cuba maintained a high level of cooperation with the UN Special Procedures and was a State party to 42 international human rights treaties.

Participants

In total 133 States participated in the dialogue:  32 HRC members and 101 observers  (Statements available on Cuba page on the UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Progress made in economic, social and cultural rights and in achieving most of the MDGs;
  • Progress made towards gender equality and participation of women in governance;
  • The provision of free and universal education as well as free universal health care;
  • Accession to the Convention on enforced disappearances and the CRPD;
  • Support given to countries in the wake of natural disasters;
  • Efforts taken to respect the rights of LGBT persons.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Steps to protect and promote and guarantee the freedom of expression and association;
  • Measures to address the case of political prisoners and to abolish the death penalty;
  • Efforts to eliminate discrimination, including that based on sexual orientation;
  • Steps to continue achieving the MDGs and to ensure the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights;
  • Sharing of experiences in the area of disasters risk management;
  • Plans to accede to the ICCPR and the ICESCR.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Cuba.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To take steps to protect, promote and guarantee the freedom of expression and association and to remove restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly; To take steps to improve access to the Internet;
  • To allow human rights association to be granted legal status; To further increase popular participation in elections and decision-making processes;
  • To release all political prisoners and to put an end to acts of intimidation and violence against political opponents;
  • To take steps to strengthen the right to a fair trial and improve prison conditions; To allow the ICRC access to prisons; To abolish the death penalty;
  • To guarantee the independence of the judiciary;  To improve transparency and due process in the criminal justice system by ensuring fair and public hearings;
  • To continue to promote the rights of LGBT persons and to eradicate negative stereotypes, prejudices and negative attitudes on the basis of race, gender or patriarchal nature; 
  • To increase efforts being carried out to combat violence against women;
  • To continue to prioritize the rights of women and children and strengthen measures to assist children with disabilities;
  • To continue efforts to implement the MDGs and to further ensure the enjoyment of human rights in the areas of economic, social and cultural rights, including to adequate housing, health care, the right to food and education; 
  • To share experiences on disasters risk management with other countries and continue to develop national information and education strategy to encourage a culture of disaster risk reduction; information;
  • To increase cooperation with UN Special Procedures and to extend a standing invitation to them; To consider setting up an independent human rights commission in line with the Paris Principles;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the ICCPR and its 2nd OP, the ICESCR, the Convention on the rights of migrant workers, the OP to CEDAW, the Rome Statute on the ICC, the OPCAT, and the OP to the CRPD.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Cuba is scheduled to take place on Friday, 3 May 2013.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org

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