Did anyone catch this one? What a shame the EU wimped out…
On April 21 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights voted 22-8 with 23 abstentions against a resolution proposed by Cuba for the organization to investigate charges of human rights abuses against some 500 Muslim and Mideastern prisoners the US is holding at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The commission then unanimously passed a resolution to designate a special rapporteur to monitor human rights violations carried out in the name of the “war against terrorism”; this resolution was introduced by Mexico, which had also backed the Cuban resolution. The votes occurred on the next-to-last day of the commission’s annual meeting in Geneva.
The European Union (EU) nations voted against the Cuban resolution, claiming that the US was already in discussions with UN investigators about the possibility of UN visits to the Guantanamo facility. A communique from the Cuban Foreign Relations Ministry called the European vote “scandalous” and said the “EU nations didn’t know what to do in the difficult choice between angering the US or confronting their own public opinion,” a reference to outrage in Europe over the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo. The US-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) also criticized the EU nations for not supporting the resolution. On April 14 the same countries had backed a US resolution calling for a special envoy to investigate human rights abuses in Cuba by the Cuban government. (La Jornada, Mexico City, April 22)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 24
Hooray for Cuba and Mexico, eh?
Unfortunately not everything is so groovy within Cuba itself. This also from Weekly News Update, April 10:
CUBA: PRISON RIOT
A number of prisoners jailed for common crimes at the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, Cuba, suffered asphyxiation and burns when guards used tear gas to quell an uprising over conditions there on April 5. Some of the injuries were serious, according to a communique from Elizardo Sanchez of the nongovernmental Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation. Cuban authorities have not commented on the latest disturbance, the second at the prison in just over two weeks; about 10 prisoners were reportedly injured in a March 19 incident in a different section of the jail. (AP, April 7)
(See also our last blog post on the still-unfolding torture scandal at Guantanamo and other U.S. military facilities.)