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UN Rapporteur concerned about process against “Cuban 5”

UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Attorneys Gabriela Knaul has sent a message to the American authorities, in which she expresses her worry about the prosecution of the five Cubans, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and René González, incarcerated in the USA for conspiracy to commit espionage.

The letter is included in the Communications section of the report presented by the Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council, celebrating its 20th session in Geneva.

Knaul expresses her concern about the Cubans’ “supposed lack of access to all available evidence and documentary records” and the fact that the appeals for habeas corpus filed by the defenses might be considered “by the same justice previously in charge of the cases”.

The Rapporteur adverts to the implications this can have on the “impartial outcome” of the process.

Only René González is currently free, after being released last October, although he will not be able to return to Cuba until 2014, when the additional three years’ probation imposed on him iscompleted.

Hernández got the bluntest punishment, sentenced to 2 life terms and 15 years’ imprisonment, after a trial that, according to several international institutions and non-governmental organizations, did not meet the basic warranties.

“I have been informed that Gerardo Hernández, whose appeal for habeas corpus is currently in progress, was allegedly denied access to legal documents related to his case”, says Knaul.

In 2005, thanks to the complaints of the Cuban Government and the families, the UN workgroup on arbitrary imprisonment was able to urge Washington to give a solution to the case of “the five”, with which ex-President Jimmy Carter and 10 Nobel Peace Prize laureates have made common cause.

The Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Attorneys already addressed Washington in 2005 and 2008 to procure information, to which the American administration responded in 2009, stating that all available material had been turned in to the defense.

Knaul points out that international law guarantees defendants and their attorneys the right of access to all relevant information on the case, as stated by the International Civil and Political Rights Agreement.

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