The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted a petition to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on July 17 requesting an urgent appeal to the government of Cuba regarding the brutal assault of Cuban journalist Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez on June 11.
Guerra is the founder and director of the independent news agency Centro de Información Hablemos Press (CIHPRESS) in Cuba.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit organization calls on the UN Special Rapporteur to request that the government of Cuba “adopt immediate measures to protect the right to life, security, and physical integrity of Roberto Guerra and that of his family.”
The petition also documents the widespread pattern of repression, persecution, and imprisonment of journalists in Cuba.
Sarah Wasserman, Chief Operating Officer of HRF said in a press release on Wednesday, “For years, Guerra and the journalists at Hablemos Press have bravely reported on these abuses, either through their modest website or by distributing press releases they manage to print in the most rudimentary form.”
Wasserman argues these journalists released controversial information, including “the dreadful state of public healthcare and education, the arbitrary arrests of peaceful dissidents, malnutrition, lack of food safety, and the continuous outbreaks of cholera and other diseases.”
Javier El-Hage, HRF’s general counsel, explains that even though Cuba is not a member of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “as a member of the United Nations, it can be held accountable for violations to the right of freedom of expression of its citizens.”
“This right is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a binding instrument of customary international law signed by Cuba in 1948,” he added.
Cuba ranks 170 in the Reporters Without Borders 2014 World Press Freedom Index.