CPJ urges Castro to end persecution of independent press

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned about your government’s practice of imprisoning journalists in reprisal for their work. Twenty-four Cuban reporters, writers, and editors were behind bars on December 1, 2005, making your country the world’s second-leading jailer of journalists, behind only China, CPJ found in an analysis released today. Two Cuban journalists were imprisoned during the year, joining 22 others who have been jailed since a massive March 2003 crackdown on the independent press.

According to CPJ research, jailed journalists suffer from harassment, humiliating prison conditions, and psychological pressures. Many remain far from their homes, adding to the heavy burden on their families. Journalists and family members have cited unsanitary prison conditions, inadequate medical care, and insufficient diet. Several are in cells with common criminals; others are in isolation.

Many of the journalists are allowed family visits only once every three months and marital visits only once every four months. Relatives are harassed for talking to the foreign press, protesting the journalists’ incarceration, and gathering signatures calling for their release.

Journalists who were ill before being jailed have seen their health worsen in prison, while others who were in good health have developed illnesses. Some have started hunger strikes to protest poor conditions. In retaliation, prison authorities have transferred journalists, limited outside contact, and withheld information. As a result, families have been unable to monitor the journalists’ health.

The imprisonment of these journalists in reprisal for their independent reporting violates international law, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees everyone “the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

We urge you to release all of the detained journalists immediately and unconditionally, and we call on the Cuban government to respect international guarantees for free expression and to stop persecuting the independent press.


Ann Cooper
Executive Director