Skip to main content

Cuba: Politics and Government

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the persecution of Christians in Cuba, with particular reference to the case of Pastor Omar Gride Pérez; and if he will make a statement. (288010)

The Government remain concerned about the human rights situation in Cuba. The Cuban government maintains tight control over its citizens and is generally wary of unofficial, unregistered group meetings. Economic freedoms are limited, political opposition is not tolerated and restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and assembly are common. Unregistered religious groups, such as house churches, are sometimes affected by these restrictions. But as many churches manage to operate within the constraints of the system without harassment, we do not judge that there is systematic repression of Christians or religious freedoms within the country.

We have been following closely the case of Pastor Omar Gride Pérez—the leader of a self-governing non-denominational church called the ‘Apostolic Reformation’ who has been detained since May 2008 and was recently sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for charges of falsification of documents, and was also evicted from his property. We are concerned by the lack of an independent judiciary in Cuba, and the harsh penalties given for some crimes. We are aware of concerns that his lengthy sentence may be connected to his religious activities and status as an independent church leader.