NEW YORK (August 21, 2020) – Yesterday, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted an arbitrary detention case against Cuba on behalf of Keilylli de la Mora, a 27-year old activist who has been illegally detained since the beginning of June.
This action is part of HRF’s Impact Litigation program which provides international legal representation to prisoners of conscience whose cases are emblematic examples of the brutality of dictatorship. De la Mora was arrested on April 12 for “spreading an epidemic.” She had removed her mask to smoke outside and was a few steps from her home when the Cuban police used the incident as a pretext to arrest her for politically motivated reasons.
De la Mora is a supporter of Cuba Decide, an activist for the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), and a member of the Citizen Consensus Movement. These civil society organizations engage in peaceful opposition and work toward transitioning the island to a democratic country.
She was accused of maintaining “anti-social behavior” that altered public order and of spreading COVID-19 among other farcical denunciations. She was arrested, taken to a nearby police unit, and beaten for shouting slogans denouncing the Cuban regime.
On April 16, she was telephoned and told to appear at the municipal police unit where she was given the list of accusations against her, including “the spread of epidemics, contempt, resistance, and disobedience.”
On May 7, de la Mora was convicted by summary trial by the Provincial People’s Court of Cienfuegos. She was subjected to a show trial — a closed hearing that was short-lived. She was denied her right to legal representation and was charged with contempt, resistance, and disobedience for her pro-democracy activism in Cuba.
She was sentenced to 1 year and six months in prison, which her father appealed on the same day of her trial. On May 30, her appeal was denied and she was ordered to begin serving her sentence on June 4 at the Sabana Miguel Penitentiary Center in Cienfuegos, Cuba.
That day, de la Mora began a hunger strike to protest her arbitrary detention. She was subsequently transferred to an isolated cell within the prison, where she was beaten, harassed, and threatened by the penitentiary’s Head of Reeducation — a position used for political indoctrination — and the Chief of Penitentiaries.
Recently, de la Mora was admitted to the Provincial Hospital of Cienfuegos after attempting to commit suicide on three occasions. Keilylli’s imprisonment is having a destructive effect on her mental state, and her continued confinement will result in a prolonged psychological crisis.
Today she remains in the Sabana Miguel Penitentiary Center in Cienfuegos where she continues to be denied legal consultation and representation. In addition, de la Mora’s family members and colleagues have been denied visitation rights, and de la Mora has yet to communicate with anyone outside of the penitentiary.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. For further comment, please contact [email protected].