Police arrested Du Bouchet Hernández, director of the independent news agency Havana Press, as he was visiting relatives outside the city. Officers alleged that the journalist had shouted antigovernment slogans in the street.
In May 2009, Du Bouchet Hernández was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of “disrespect” and distribution of enemy propaganda. Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, president of the Havana-based Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, told CPJ that the journalist had been in a summary proceeding without the assistance of a defense lawyer. Miriam Herrera, an independent journalist based in Havana, told CPJ that Du Bouchet Hernández had reported on social issues, which could have upset local authorities.
In 2010, Du Bouchet Hernández was being held at the Melena II Prison, in Havana province, his colleague Roberto De Jesús Guerra told CPJ. He faced appalling prison conditions, including poor food and overflowing wastewater, De Jesús Guerra said. Du Bouchet Hernández was subjected to beatings, but continued reporting from prison on jail conditions, prisoners’ life stories, and human rights violations, CPJ research showed.
Du Bouchet Hernández was not included in a July 2010 agreement between the Cuban government and the Catholic Church to release 52 political prisoners swept up in the 2003 crackdown on dissidents and the independent press. As of December 1, he had not been offered his release under any conditions, according to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.
Du Bouchet Hernández had also been jailed in 2005 on “disrespect” charges and sentenced to one year in prison after he enraged authorities with his coverage of a two-day gathering that brought together 200 opposition activists and guests to discuss ways to create democracy in Cuba. Du Bouchet Hernández was released in August 2006 after completing his sentence.