U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1994/31 (1994)(Nigel Rodley, Special Rapporteur).


Information transmitted to the Government

189. By letter dated 3 November 1993 the Special Rapporteur informed the Government that he had received information on seven cases of prisoners alleged to have been grievously ill-treated in several prisons of the country. These cases are described in the following paragraphs.

190. Julio Pérez Benítez, 19 years old, a detainee at Agüica prison, province of Matanzas, was reportedly beaten on 19 May 1992 with rubber truncheons by a group of guards until he lost consciousness.

191. Manuel Benítez Hernández who is serving a sentence for enemy propaganda in Boniato prison, Santiago de Cuba, was allegedly given a severe beating in September 1992 at the punishment area known as Boniatico, with the result that he received a head wound which needed several stitches, and bruises all over his body.

192. Joel Alfonso Matos, a detainee at the Quivicán prison, was said to have been beaten on 23 October 1992 by a group of seven guards, resulting in injuries to the mouth and one eye for which he had to be admitted to the San Antonio de los Baños hospital.

193. Luis Alberto Pita Santos, President of an organization calling itself the "Asociación Defensora de los Derechos Políticos", was allegedly given a severe beating in December 1992 in Boniato prison which left him with a fractured arm. It is reported that he was later moved to the Camagüey maximum security prison, where he was imprisoned for months with his feet shackled from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m., and that, on 22 April 1993, he was wounded as a result of another beating given by a prison guard for having refused to wear a uniform.

194. José Pascual Castillo, a detainee in the Manacas provincial prison, Villa Clara, was allegedly beaten on 15 February 1993 by several guards. According to the information received, Mr. Castillo was handcuffed and beaten with rubber truncheons and kicked until he almost lost consciousness; afterwards he was moved to a solitary confinement cell.

195. Gerardo Montes de Oca, a detainee in Block 2 of the Combinado del Este prison, was said to have been severely beaten in May 1993 by four prison guards. He was then apparently moved to a sealed-up cell for three days, after which he had to be admitted to the prison infirmary because of the injuries he had suffered.

196. Juan Carlos Aguiar Beatón a detainee in the Guanajay prison in the province of Havana, was allegedly subjected to a severe beating on 15 July 1993 by several guards, who beat him with rubber truncheons and other blunt objects. It was reported that the beating was prompted by Mr. Aguiar Beatón's refusal to stop speaking to another prisoner through the window and that, as a result of the injuries he suffered, the prisoner died a few days later.

197. The following two cases were also transmitted to the Government:

(a) Heriberto Arce Vázquez was reported to have been brutally beaten on 24 May 1992 in Santa Clara, Villa Clara, by several police officers when he was in the street with a group of young people, one of whom had shouted "Down with Fidel". It was alleged that he was then taken to the third police unit, where he was also beaten, and that, as a result, he had to be taken to hospital, where he was issued with a medical certificate because of his injuries and prescribed complete rest.

(b) René Contreras Blanch, a member of the "Partido Cubano de Derechos Humanos", was reportedly assaulted on 16 March 1993 in Aguila Street, between Estrella and Reina streets in Central Havana, by several police officers who beat him and hurled a stone at him which caused a serious head wound.

Urgent appeals

198. The Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal to the Government on 16 December 1992 on behalf of Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, leader of the group known as the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, who was detained at his home in Havana on 10 December 1992 by members of the State security forces. It was alleged that at the time of his detention Mr. Sánchez Santa Cruz was beaten and had to be taken to hospital. On the following day he was transferred to the detention centre of the Technical Investigation Department situated at Calle 100 and Aldabó. Fears were expressed that he might be ill-treated or tortured while in detention.

199. On 12 March 1993 the Government replied that E. Sánchez Santa Cruz had committed a breach of the peace during which he expressed angry and violent criticism of the country's political and social system and insulted citizens and neighbours who argued with him. This resulted in a fracas during which blows and insults were exchanged, ending in intervention by the forces of law and order. E. Sánchez Santa Cruz was taken to the Carlos J. Finlay military hospital; as this was the closest hospital to his home it is clear that there was no intention whatsoever to conceal the incident and its consequences. At the hospital he was given the necessary treatment; his injuries were described as slight, consisting of simple small bruises caused by punches, almost all of them from women. Subsequently he was taken to the Investigations Department situated at Calle 100 and Aldabó, where he was charged with disturbing the peace and, within the period specified in Cuba's criminal procedure law, was provisionally released on bail. At no time was he kept incommunicado, and his relatives were aware of his detention and the place thereof. With regard to the slight injuries suffered by E. Sánchez Santa Cruz, they quite clearly resulted from his altercation with his neighbours and were certainly not caused by the police.

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