NEW YORK (August 26, 2021) — This week, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) published a decision concluding that the April 2020 arrest and detention of Cuban prodemocracy activist Keilylli De La Mora was arbitrary and in violation of international law. According to the UNWGAD, the Cuban regime imprisoned De La Mora without any legal basis and concluded that her detention resulted from the exercise of her right to freedom of expression and association in connection to her activism. The UNWGAD also recommended that Cuba provide De La Mora with compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.
“We welcome the UNWGAD’s decision condemning the Cuban regime’s harassment and intimidation campaign against De La Mora. Regrettably, her case is just one among hundreds. Arbitrary arrests and detentions have skyrocketed as a result of the largest prodemocracy protests on the island in recent history,” said HRF Chief Legal Officer Roberto González. “With this decision — along with the recent buildup of international condemnations against the regime — Cuba must understand that, if it continues to deprive its people of their most basic rights and freedoms, the international community will continue to hold it accountable.”
On April 12, 2020, Cuban prodemocracy activist Keilylli De La Mora had briefly removed her face mask a few steps outside of her home when Cuban police used this as a pretext to arrest her with a newly invented charge of “spreading an epidemic.” She was subsequently beaten by the police, subjected to a show trial — where she was denied legal counsel — and sentenced to prison for contempt, resistance, and disobedience. While in prison, De La Mora was subjected to horrific forms of verbal and physical abuse.
In its decision published earlier this week, the UNWGAD determined that the Cuban regime violated its international obligations under Articles 3, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on Remedies and Procedures on the Right of Anyone Deprived of Their Liberty to Bring Proceedings Before a Court, the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), and the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules).
Learn more about the Cuban regime’s persecution of human rights activists and the importance of political freedom and accountability by watching Rosa María Payá’s talk, “Let Cuba Decide,” at the 2016 Oslo Freedom Forum. Ms. Payá is a pro-democracy activist who currently leads the international campaign Cuba Decide which advocates for free, fair, and plural elections in Cuba.
HRF’s Impact Litigation program provides international legal representation to prisoners of conscience whose cases are emblematic examples of the brutality of dictatorship. HRF regularly submits emblematic cases of arbitrarily imprisoned dissidents and pro-democracy activists to international judicial and semi-judicial bodies of the United Nations system and multiple other special procedures under the UN Human Rights Council.