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UN Human Rights Chief urges Cuba to halt harassment of civil society activists

GENEVA (15 December 2015) -- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Tuesday that he is concerned at the extremely high number of arbitrary arrests and short-term detention of individuals, including human rights defenders and dissidents in Cuba in recent weeks.

“There have been many hundreds of arbitrary arrests and short-term detentions – which in my view amount to harassment – in the past six weeks alone. These often take place without a warrant and ahead of specific meetings or demonstrations, and seem to be aimed at preventing people from exercising their right to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly,” Zeid said. “I was particularly shocked that a number of people, including members of the Ladies in White NGO, were arrested on Human Rights Day, on 10 December. This shows an extraordinary disdain for the importance of human rights on the part of the Cuban authorities.”

The High Commissioner urged the authorities to respect everyone's right to freedom of expression, and to peaceful assembly and association, and to stop arbitrarily arresting people, in particular before, during or after peaceful demonstrations. “I call for the release of all those arbitrarily arrested who may still be in detention as a consequence of the legitimate exercise of their rights,” he said.

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