Tuesday, January 18, 2005

740 Cuban-Americans Held Indefinately in US Jails

On a day when our new top diplomat - Condoleeza Rice - declared Cuba an "outpost of tyranny," the Miami Herlad reports that over 740 Cuban-Americans are being held indefinetely in jails across the US - long after serving their original jail terms and with no possibility for release. They were to be held illegally until they died, until the Supreme Court stepped in last week.

Of course, the US originally based its illegal and immoral blockade and travel ban on the Soviet threat that was said to eminate from Cuba. After the fall of the USSR, we suddenly became concerned about "human rights" in our backyard (not in Colombia or Peru mind you). The most cited Cuban sin is the jailing of so-called dissidents. Amnesty Internaitonal claims there are 2-300 of these on the island, including the 75 mercenaries (paid agents of US/Spanish Government or USG funded organizations) arrested last year.

But now we find out that the largest amount of Cubans in jail illegally are in the United States. More than 740 Cubans who completed their time for mostly petty crimes have been held alongside violent criminals with no idea when they may be released at all.

There are more than 5,000 of these INS "long-term unremovables" - mostly from countries that we don't like and therefore don't have extradition treaties with - Libya, Iraq, Laos, Palestine, etc. International law clearly prohibits arbitrary imprisonment, and the Supreme Court has finally decided this appies to non-citizens in the US as well.

Some stories of US justice that arose after a hostage standoff over prison conditions in Louisiana in 1999 (see picture above):

Cuban man interviewed at the Avoyelles Parish Prison recalled, "One guy got pneumonia. He asked for medical treatment, and they put him in a lockdown cell. He never got medical treatment. He was in the lockdown room for along time. He got skinny, skinny, then they let him go."

Nestor Campos, a Cuban detained at the Orleans Parish Prison in Louisiana: "The guards used to tell me, ‘You'll be here until you're dead.'"

Human Rights Watch has specifically condemned the U.S.'s indeterminate sentencing policy, saying it is "clearly prohibited by international law." It also said that "detention becomes arbitrary when detainees, who are not serving a criminal sentence, do not know when they will be released and have no genuine mechanism to challenge the indefinite nature of their detention."

Two international human rights documents prohibit the use of indefinite detention, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which was ratified by the members of the United Nations in 1948. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the United States in 1992, also prohibits the practice.

Oh how I love that Cuba provides so many glimpses into the reality of America.


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