NGOs Urgent call for Cuban Human Rights activist Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, former prisoner of conciencie by Amnesty International
Dear Mrs. High Commissioner,
We ask for you to intervene before the Cuban government to defy the illegal prohibition of travel outside the country that this government imposed to human rights activisit Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina. The objective of the trip is to give a speech this Monday on the 2nd Geneva Summit on Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy.
As you know, Mr. Rodríguez Lobaina is President of the Cuban Movement of Youth for Democracy and one of the best known cuban dissidents. He was sent to prison for more than five years for the crimes of "contempt", "public disorder" and "damage", and he became the center of a global campaign by Amnesty International for his freedom as prisoner of concience.
The members of the worldwide civil society that organized the Geneva Summit invited Mr. Rodríguez Lobaina to tape part as a distinguished panelist in the conference. For this he received the required permissions by the Swiss government. However, the Cuban government has refused to give Mr. Rodríguez Lobaina the permission to leave the country, preventing his participation in this important human rights meeting.
Under article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." Article 12 of International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights similarly guarantees that "Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own". This and other rights "shall not be subject to any restrictions except those which are provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others, and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Covenant". In its 27th General Comment (1999), the UN Human Rights Committee established that the restrictions to the right to travel must be "must not nullify the principle of liberty of movement, and are governed by the requirement of necessity provided for in article 12, paragraph 3, and by the need for consistency with the other rights recognized in the Covenant". The restriction in Cuba for the present case do not respect any of this conditions.
Article 5c of the Declaration of Human Rightrs Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, guarantees that "For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels [...] to communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations."
For these reasons we exhort you to intervene before the Cuban authorities to lift these restrictions against Mr. Rodríguez Lobaina inmediately. Also we urge you to claim the Cuban authorities that they assure that in every circumstance human rights defenders can carry on with their work without any unjustified impediments.
We ask you and the UN to change this decision that tries to block a human rights defender in his work. We hope that this travel prohibition is lifted, so that Mr. Rodríguez Lobaina can join his colleague dissidents this Monday for the Geneva Summit, and then travel without restrictions.
We thank you very much for this urgent matter.
Paula Schriefer, Director of Advocacy, Freedom House
John Suarez, International Secretary, Directorio
Bart Woord, President, International Federation of Liberal Youth
Tashi Albertini, President, Associazione Ticino Tibet
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director, UN Watch
Maran Turner, Executive Director, Freedom Now
Nazanin Afshin-Jam, President and Co-Founder Stop Child Executions
Ahmad Batebi, Founder, Human Rights Activists in Iran
Gabriel Salvia, Presidente, CADAL