Cuban government acknowledges death of at least 100 people in prison in the last year

The Cuban government acknowledged before the UN Committee Against Torture that in the last year at least 100 inmates died in the island’s prisons.

The figure is detailed in report submitted to that body, which issued recent recommendations to stop the death of prisoners, most of whom would have died from coronary diseases.

The Committee criticized Cuba for “not presenting complete statistical information regarding persons deprived of liberty who died during the period under review”; and clarified that the data included in a previous periodic report sent by the Havana authorities was analyzed.

“According to the information included in the periodic report, cardiovascular diseases would be the main cause of death among the prison population,” the document states.

Another observation of the multinational organization indicates that despite having recorded an “average of about 100 deaths in custody per year”, in no case did the Cuban State determine “the responsibility of public servants” or attempt to detect “signs of bodily violence during autopsies. “.

It states that when Cuba was asked to respond in this regard, the Delegation said that “between 2016 and 2019, the Military Prosecutor’s Office investigated eight complaints filed in relation to the death of persons deprived of liberty and that as a result of the corresponding investigations violations were noted in three cases, applying disciplinary measures, without specifying, to three officials”.

However, Cuba refused to provide information on some inmate deaths, including that of Alejandro Pupo Echemendía, who reportedly died in police custody in Placetas, Villa Clara, and Reidel García Otero, a prisoner at the Valle Grande prison.

In this regard, the Committee against Torture urged the regime to impartially investigate by an independent body all cases of death during deprivation of liberty; and to investigate any possible responsibility of public officials in these deaths.

It also calls for “publishing detailed information on cases of death of persons deprived of liberty and the causes; and promoting measures to improve the quality of medical and health care provided to prisoners.

Likewise, to evaluate the existing programs for the prevention, detection and treatment of chronic, degenerative and infectious diseases in the prisons of the island.

In another part of the document, the Committee expresses its concern about the subordination of the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic to President Miguel Díaz-Canel, established in article 157 of the Constitution; At the same time, it urged the State to ensure the full independence, impartiality, and effectiveness of the Attorney General’s Office and the judiciary.

In this regard, it rejects the use in the Cuban criminal code of criminal figures based on subjective concepts such as the “dangerous state” and the “official warning” that punish people for their alleged proclivity to commit a crime, as well as “sedition” which penalizes a wide variety of behaviors, including those that would disturb public order.

“The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party amend the provisions of the Criminal Code mentioned above in order to put an end to detention based on subjective, vague and imprecise criminal definitions such as the pre-criminal social dangerousness and the sedition“, which have been used to judge, for example, the protesters of July 11.

Although the Cuban government keeps a hermetic silence about the situation in the country’s prisons, some cases transcend thanks to the complaints of relatives.

In 2020, Cuban Roberto Jiménez del Sol, 56, died in a prison in the province of Matanzas, allegedly due to a beating by the police.

Relatives of the victim affirmed that Jiménez was detained in a unit of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), due to a shortage in the store where he worked.

Although the police reported that he had died of a heart attack and that he had been taken to the hospital three times, there was no record of any visits to the doctor, and the body had bruises on the neck, face and eyes, before which the Agents said that he had fallen in the bathroom and that this had caused the bruises.

Last year, the Cuban Bárbara Rosabal Fernández blamed the Combinado del Este prison authorities for the death of his son, Joaquín Martínez Rosabalfound dead in a cell at the National Hospital for Prisoners, in December 2019.

“My son was a victim of the abuses that exist here in the prisons of Cuba, and nothing, here there is no one to complain to,” he complained in statements to Cubanet the mother, who has not stopped demanding an investigation from the authorities into the death of her son without obtaining a response.

In May 2021 Maykel Acosta, 35 years old, died planted in the Combinado del Este prison, in the Havana municipality of Guanabacoa. Acosta was at least the fourth Cuban to die that year in Cuba in police custody and the second to lose his life in May.

Last February it was also known the case of a jamaican that he would have committed suicide in the prison for foreigners La Condesa, in Mayabeque. However, the inmates warned of the strange behavior of several officers after the tragedy, who cleaned the scene before calling the experts.

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