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Cuba: Prisons

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received any information that suggests that (a) torture, or (b) inhuman and degrading treatment, is practised in Cuban prisons. [HL2485]

It is difficult to obtain official, reliable information about prison conditions in Cuba. The Cuban Government tightly control information about, and access to, their prisons.

Following a fact-finding mission to Cuba in 2009, Human Rights Watch reported concerns about prison conditions including: overcrowded cells; unhygienic and insufficient food and water; inadequate medical treatment; and cases of solitary confinement, harassment and beatings. The report additionally highlighted the lack of an effective complaint mechanism to address concerns. Our embassy in Havana maintains contacts with various unofficial groups in Cuba that focus on prison conditions as well as the families of political prisoners whose complaints reflect the concerns of Human Rights Watch. Such reports certainly give us cause for concern as to the possibility that prisoners in Cuba may be being subjected to mistreatment.

We consistently raise concerns about prison conditions with the Cuban Government and call on them to allow independent inspection of their prisons. The Cuban Government ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1995 and in January 2009 invited the UN Special Rapporteur for Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to visit Cuba. The visit has not yet taken place. We hope that the special rapporteur’s visit will be arranged soon and that he will be granted sufficient access to places of detention to be able to conduct a proper assessment of the situation. We will take careful note of his findings.