In a ruling published today , the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) explained that Maldonado was denied due process, and recommended the Cuban State to provide him with compensation for his nearly two months of wrongful imprisonment.
Cuba State agents arrested Maldonado for spray-painting Spanish language graffiti “Se fue” (“He’s gone”) on a Havana wall shortly after the death of Fidel Castro. The WGAD found that Maldonado was arrested without a warrant, that no charges were brought against him, and that he was denied access to a lawyer throughout his two months in a maximum-security prison in Havana.
“The Working Group was right to condemn the Cuban regime for its thuggery. We call on the regime to provide guarantees that it will cease harassing El Sexto and all other artists for exercising their right to freedom of expression,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “This case proves that Cuba’s 58-year-old police State remains intact. Even if Raúl decides to ignore this U.N. determination the way the Venezuela regime has blatantly ignored a similar ruling on the case of Leopoldo López, the decision will aid a government in Cuba’s democratic future determining how best to offer reparations to the State’s victims,” Halvorssen concluded.
The WGAD’s decision came as a result of HRF’s December 12, 2016 petition to the WGAD requesting that they investigate Maldonado’s arbitrary arrest and detention. The WGAD concluded that Maldonado’s “deprivation of liberty was arbitrary” and that “an adequate remedy would be to grant Maldonado compensation and other types of reparation, under international law.”
El Sexto was awarded the 2015 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent — while still in prison — for his bravery and ingenuity in peacefully advocating for individual rights in Cuba. At the time, he was arrested and detained for attempting a performance piece that criticized Fidel and Raúl Castro. After his release, Maldonado was a speaker at the 2016 Oslo Freedom Forum , where he was finally able to collect his award. He was featured in Art in Protest , an ongoing series of international art exhibitions and events produced by HRF, featuring artists whose work is a reaction against injustice, inequalities, violence and oppression.
“The Working Group’s decision confirms the damning facts presented by HRF in its petition,” said HRF International Legal Associate Centa B. Rek, on behalf of Maldonado’s team of pro bono attorneys. “While they sent the Working Group a long response to our complaint, the Cuban regime completely failed to provide any evidence backing their false allegations that El Sexto had been arrested with a warrant or that he had access to a lawyer. This decision helps shed light on the fact that, in Cuba, anyone who disrespects the dictator can be arbitrarily detained without any legal basis whatsoever. The Cuban regime deprives its citizens of even the most fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to a fair trial,” Rek added.
“The struggle for freedom in Cuba continues as an entire people suffers under a brutal dictatorship,” said Danilo Maldonado reacting to the ruling. “Decisions like this help highlight the predicament of millions of Cubans.”
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
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