To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made, or intend to make, to the Government of Cuba about the use of provisions in Cuban criminal law that permit the indefinite detention of individuals for dangerousness. [HL152]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of political prisoners detained in Cuba under provisions in Cuban law that prohibit conduct in manifest contradiction to the norms of socialist morality. [HL153]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made since 1997, or intend to make, to the Government of Cuba to allow the Red Cross access to its prisons. [HL154]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of political prisoners in Cuba. [HL155]
We are greatly concerned about the high numbers of political prisoners in Cuba and the conditions in which they are held. We are also troubled by the existence and use of pre-criminal social dangerousness charges to target behaviour that contradicts Cuba's socialist norms. These pre-emptive charges, often used against political dissidents and critics, allow the authorities to imprison individuals before they have committed any crime, on the suspicion that they are likely to commit an offence in the future. This has included prostitutes, unemployed people and alcoholics.
It is difficult to get accurate figures on the number of political prisoners in Cuba, as the Government of Cuba tightly control information about their prisons. Furthermore, there is inconsistency in reporting cases and many go unreported. We therefore have to rely on a range of sources to get estimates. A report published in August by the unofficial Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation documented 208 cases of political prisoners. Fifty-three of the 75 political prisoners arrested during the 2003 clampdown remain detained. Amnesty International recognises 57 prisoners of conscience in Cuba.
Based on a fact-finding mission to Cuba this year, Human Rights Watch documented more than 40 cases in which the Government have imprisoned individuals under the dangerousness provision. In April 2009 our embassy in Havana wrote to the Ministry of Justice in Cuba, asking how many people had been charged with social dangerousness in the past five years. We are still waiting for a response. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation believe that there may be between 3,000 and 5,000 prisoners in Cuba convicted of pre-criminal dangerousness.
We continue to raise our concerns about political prisoners regularly with the Cuban authorities in London and Havana. Human rights also form an important part of the EU's political dialogue with Cuba, including monitoring a list of political prisoners in poor health. Although we have not specifically pressed for Red Cross access to Cuban prisons, during Cuba's universal periodic review at the UN Human Rights Council in February, the UK recommended that Cuba allow independent international observers including UN special rapporteurs to review the prisons. In addition to highlighting concerns about political prisoners, the UK also recommended that Cuba refrain from using such laws as those against dangerousness, enemy propaganda and contempt for authority to restrict the rights of freedom of expression and association.