AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL- 5 July 2017, Index number: AMR 25/6671/2017

After ending a reported 39-day hunger strike, Cuban opposition activist Jorge Cervantes, allegedly detained for contempt in May, was transferred to a maximum security prison. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

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opposition activist in maximum security prison

After ending a reported 39-day hunger strike, Cuban opposition activist Jorge Cervantes, allegedly detained for contempt in May, was transferred to a maximum security prison. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be
released immediately and unconditionally.

Jorge Cervantes García, a member of the political opposition group the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU), was detained on 23 May in Las Tunas, central-eastern Cuba. Weeks before, UNPACU published
on its YouTube channel a video called “Horrors in jail” in which Jorge  Cervantes interviewed a man who had allegedly been ill-treated in a Cuban prison, and a series of shorter videos which allege corruption by public officials in Cuba. According to Gretchen Alfonso Torres, his wife, on 22 May she and Jorge Cervantes filed a report with the military
prosecutor (*fiscalía militar*) to denounce that members of the state security agency searched their home and took some of their belongings. The following day, Cuban authorities detained Jorge Cervantes.

Jorge Cervantes’ family has not received any official documents setting out the charges against him, but were verbally informed that he is charged with contempt (*desacato*) and resistance (*resistencia*). Both provisions of
the Criminal Code are frequently used in charges against human rights defenders and political activists in an attempt to stifle free speech, peaceful assembly and association in Cuba. According to his family, Jorge Cervantes was initially held in a police station and later moved to Potosi prison, north of Las Tunas. After refusing to wear the official prison
uniform, his family say he was held for at least 20 days in solitary confinement without clothes, until being transferred to a hospital where he remained under detention.

Amnesty International was informed that on 1 July, Jorge Cervantes suspended a reported hunger strike after 39 days. On 3 July, doctors informed his wife that he had been transferred to the Combinado del Este prison, a maximum security prison on the outskirts of Havana, over 600km away from his family in Las Tunas. Authorities informed his family that he had been transferred because his kidneys were failing, and he would receive better medical attention in the Combinado del Este prison. Doctors have kept his family verbally informed of his health condition, but the family
says that they have never received official medical documents.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

n  Calling on the authorities to release Jorge Cervantes immediately and
unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for
peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression;

n  Urging them to provide Jorge Cervantes with access to qualified health
professionals providing health care in compliance with medical ethics,
including the principles of confidentiality, autonomy, and informed consent;

n  Calling on them to ensure Jorge Cervantes has effective access to his
family and lawyer of his choice without delay and regularly thereafter.




*President of the Republic*

Raúl Castro Ruz

Presidente de la República de Cuba

La Habana, Cuba

Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba Office in Geneva); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)


(c/o Cuban Mission to UN)

Twitter: @RaulCastroR

Salutation: Your Excellency


*Attorney General*

Dr. Darío Delgado Cura

Fiscal General de la República

Fiscalía General de la República

Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella

Centro Habana, La Habana, Cuba


Twitter: @FGR_Cuba

Salutation: Dear Attorney General


*Minister of Justice*

María Esther Reus

Ministerio de Justicia

Calle O # 216 E/ 23 y 25 Vdo. Plaza de la Revolución

La Habana, Cuba

Twitter: @CubaMinjus

Salutation: Dear Minister

*Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:*

Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address
Salutation Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above



opposition activist in maximum security prison
ADditional Information

Provisions of the Cuban Criminal Code, such as contempt of a public
official (*desacato*), resistance to public officials carrying out their
duties (*resistencia*) and public disorder (*desórdenes públicos*) are
frequently used to stifle the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful
assembly and association in Cuba.

Article 144 of the Cuban Penal Code defines the crime of contempt (
*desacato*), making all forms of disrespect of state officials an offence
and providing for longer prison terms where the disrespect is directed
against government members or other top state officials.

Article 144 states: “1. Anyone who threatens, slanders, defames, insults,
harms or in any way outrages or offends, orally or in writing, the dignity
or honour of an authority, public official, or their agents or auxiliaries,
in the exercise of their functions or on the occasion of or because of them
will incur a penalty of between three months and one year’s loss of liberty
or a fine… or both. 2. If the deed established in the previous paragraph is
directed against the President of the Council of State, the President of
the National Assembly of Popular Power, the members of the Council of State
and the Council of Ministers or the deputies at the National Assembly of
Popular Power, the penalty will be between one and three years’ loss of

Amnesty International believes that public officials should tolerate more
criticism than private individuals. The use of criminal defamation laws
with the purpose or effect of inhibiting legitimate criticism of government
or public officials violates the right to freedom of expression. Amnesty
International opposes laws prohibiting insult or disrespect of heads of
state or public figures, the military or other public institutions or flags
or symbols (such as *lèse majesté* and *desacato* laws). Amnesty
International also opposes laws criminalizing defamation, whether of public
figures or private individuals, which should be treated as a matter for
civil litigation. Public officials should not receive state assistance or
support in bringing civil actions for defamation.

Solitary confinement is the isolation of a prisoner or detainee from other
inmates. Depending on its length and other conditions solitary confinement,
or the reduced sensory stimulation which can result from solitary
confinement, may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The UN
Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela
Rules) prohibits the practice of prolonged solitary confinement, considered
to be in excess of 15 consecutive days.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a
Cuban-based human rights NGO not recognized by the authorities, documented
a monthly average of 827 politically motivated detentions in 2016, and 380
in June 2017.

Cuba is closed to Amnesty International and nearly all independent
international human rights monitors.

Name: Jorge Cervantes García

Gender m/f: male

UA: 164/17 Index: AMR 25/6671/2017 Issue Date: 5 July 2017