[QODLink]
Americas
Drop in political prisoners in Cuba
Human rights report says fewest dissidents in Cuban jails since communist revolution.
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2010 07:44 GMT
Guillermo Farinas has been on hunger strike for
130 days, demanding the release of inmates [EPA]

The number of political prisoners held in Cuban jails has dropped to an all-time low, continuing a gradual trend in recent years of releasing them, a human rights group report says.

A bi-annual report, issued by the independent Cuban Commission for Human Rights group on Monday, said the communist government of Cuba now holds 167 political prisoners, down from 201 at the end of 2009.

The commission said that after the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power, the number of political prisoners had peaked six years later at 15,000.

But that number has steadily declined, especially in the past seven years, after the government realised that "it does not need to have so many political prisoners to maintain almost complete social control," Elizardo Sanchez, a spokesman for the rights commission, said.

Sanchez said the group's findings also indicate that the government is readying to free about 40 more jailed dissidents.

"We are receiving information from the prisons that they are interviewing them, preparing them and asking what they plan to do when they get out," he said.

Cuban pressure

The Cuban government has been under increased pressure to free political prisoners, from both domestic and international quarters.

The Catholic Church entered into dialogue with the government in recent months to try to secure the release of some of the ailing political prisoners, and the Chilean president, Sebastian Pinera, has said his administration would also approach Cuba.

Miguel Angel Moratinos, the Spanish foreign minister, arrived in Havana, the Cuban capital, on Monday to support the church's efforts and attempt to save the life of a Cuban hunger-striker.

Cuban media reported earlier in the weekthat Guillermo Farinas, who has been on a voluntary fast for more than 130 days to demand the release of seriously ill political prisoners, is in danger of dying.

Although Raul Castro, Cuba's president, has labelled Farinas a common criminal and said the government would not yield to "blackmail", Spain's foreign minister hopes to secure the release of the 26 political prisoners in poor health, thereby meeting Farinas' demand and allowing him to end his hunger strike.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Traditional spring festival blossoms outside India through fun runs, raves and TV commercials.
Parents unable to look after children are marrying them off at a tender age, exposing them to maternal deaths.
A US outbreak of algae-produced biotoxins that attack animals'?? brains also poses a grave risk to humans.
Israel has re-arrested dozens of Palestinians in the West Bank, an act a human rights group says is 'unjustified'.
New measures needed as dozens of citizens fighting with Islamic State pose home-grown terror threat, PM Abbott says.
join our mailing list