GENEVA (16 July 2021) – With numerous protesters reportedly detained in Cuba since Sunday, including some held incommunicado, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday called for the prompt release of all those who have been detained for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, or freedom of opinion and expression.
“I am very concerned at the alleged use of excessive force against demonstrators in Cuba and the arrest of a large number of people, including several journalists,” Bachelet said. “It is particularly worrying that these include individuals allegedly held incommunicado and people whose whereabouts are unknown. All those detained for exercising their rights must be promptly released.”
“I deeply regret the death of one protester in the context of protests in Havana – it is important that there be an independent, transparent, effective investigation, and that those responsible are held accountable,” she added.
The protests in Cuba take place in the context of a difficult economic situation. Protesters have demanded the lifting of economic measures which have restricted people’s access to basic goods, including food, medicine and COVID-19 vaccines.
“I urge the Government to address the protesters’ grievances through dialogue, and to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to peaceful assembly and to freedom of opinion and expression,” Bachelet said. She also called for full restoration of access to the Internet and social media.
The High Commissioner reiterated her call for the lifting of unilateral sectoral sanctions, given their negative impact on human rights, including the right to health.