The Cuban people continue to suffer serious human rights abuses under the authoritarian rule of Raul Castro.
According to the latest State Department Human Rights Report, the main human rights abuses include the abridgement of the ability of citizens to choose their government; the use of government threats, physical assault, intimidation, and violent government-organized counter-protests against peaceful dissent; and harassment and detentions to prevent free expression and peaceful assembly.
The following additional abuses continued in Cuba: harsh prison conditions; selective prosecution; denial of fair trial; and travel restrictions.
Police and security officials continued to use short-term and sometimes violent detentions to prevent independent political activity or free assembly. Such detentions generally lasted from several hours to several days. The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and Reconciliation, an independent human rights nongovernmental organization counted 9,940 detentions through the end of 2016, compared with 8,616 in 2015.
Members of the #TodosMarchamos campaign, which included Damas de Blanco, or the Ladies in White, reported weekly detentions of members to prevent demonstrations. The largest opposition group, Patriotic Union of Cuba, also reported an increase in short-term detentions.
Long-term imprisonment of peaceful government critics, while rare, did occur. In December 2016, Patriotic Union of Cuba published a list of 46 political prisoners throughout the country serving more than one month in prison for reported peaceful protests or assemblies.
Cuban authorities interfere with privacy by engaging in significant monitoring and censoring of private communications. The government does not respect freedoms of speech and press, restricts internet access, maintains a monopoly on media outlets, circumscribes academic freedom, and maintains some restrictions on the ability of unregistered religious groups to gather.
The Cuban government refuses to recognize independent human rights groups or permit them to function legally. In addition, the government continues to prevent workers from forming independent unions.
Government officials, at the direction of their superiors, committed most human rights abuses. And impunity for these perpetrators remains widespread.
“Our values are our interests when it comes to human rights,” said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “The production of these reports underscores our commitment to freedom, democracy, and the human rights guaranteed to all individuals around the world” – including in Cuba.