Human Rights Activists Behind Bars in Cuba

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As Cuba approaches the 36th anniversary of its revolution, it is engaged in an extended crackdown on independent peaceful activity and its human rights practices continue to be subject to the whim of the executive. Among the targets of this crackdown are newly-emerged human rights groups, whose establishment in recent years had given the appearance of greater openness in Cuba. Today, at least twenty-one human rights activists are believed to be held, with or without charge, for infractions of Cuban law such as producing a human rights newsletter and attempting to form a political party. The crimes under which human rights monitors are charged are considered common crimes punishable by up to one year in prison and tried at the municipal court level. Under Cuban law, defense attorneys are "not indispensable" in a municipal trial and many of the human rights monitors recently convicted of "clandestine printing" or "illicit associations, gatherings and demonstrations" have not had legal representation.

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