OAS Commission on Human Rights Warns Cuba: Cease Persecution of Jailed UNPACU Members

(Washington, D.C.) On Friday, February 14, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States advised the Global Liberty Alliance that it has granted Precautionary Measures in support of several members of a Cuban political opposition party, the Patriotic Union of Cuba better known by its Spanish acronym, UNPACU.  These are: Jose Daniel Ferrer, UNPACU President, Fernando Gonzalez Valliant, and Jose Pupo Chaveco y Roilan.

While a good development, much more needs to be done to ensure that UNPACU leaders and others are released and allowed to freely exercise their fundamental rights,” said Jason Poblete from the Global Liberty Alliance. “Cuba’s Communist Party and regime officials should realize this action is the result of efforts undertaken by independent lawyers and other civil society leaders in Cuba who came to the defense of UNPACU.  They are committed to defending the fundamental rights of the Cuban people, including UNPACU and other political opposition groups and their leaders. Violations of these liberties will not go unanswered.

Poblete explained: “On November 13, 2019, with the support of Mr. Ferrer’s family and a coalition representing a large cross-section of Cuba’s opposition movement, the Global Liberty Alliance (GLA) called on the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States to adopt precautionary measures to protect the lives of Mr. Ferrer and his other UNPACU colleagues who have been unlawfully detained by the Cuban government for weeks. The arrest of UNPACU members was part of a widespread and ongoing crackdown on dissidents and peaceful opposition groups in Cuba.”

On October 18, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo strongly condemned the unlawful detention of Mr. Ferrer and his colleagues.

BACKGROUND

Founded in 2011, UNPACU is one of the largest opposition groups in Cuba. Since its creation, its members have been subjected to imprisonment, torture, forced labor and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and punishment. There are currently close to 50 of UNPACU’s leaders held as political prisoners in Cuba. You can learn more about UNPACU here.

As outlined by the OAS rules and procedures, the precautionary measures mechanism is “designed to ensure a rapid response by the Commission in serious and urgent situations where there is an imminent risk of irreparable harm to persons or groups of persons in the 35 OAS member states. It is a mechanism utilized by all global and regional human rights bodies. The authority to issue recommendations to member states for averting irreparable harm to persons stems from Article 106 of the OAS Charter, which states the Commission’s principal function is “to promote the observance and protection of human rights.” This mandate is reflected in Article 41.b of the American Convention on Human Rights which, in turn, is reflected in Article 18.b of the IACHR Statute and in the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons.” 

The Commission’s Decision can be accessed at the end of this post, immediately following the press release. The press release is also posted in Spanish.