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Cuba Expels Spanish Protestors Amid Promises Of UN Monitoring

ICC Note

After the Cuban Foreign Minister expressed his country’s intention to adopt International Human Rights instruments, his country expelled Spanish protestors from the country.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007 Cuba (BosNewsLife)– A group of at least eight Spanish women were on their way home Tuesday, December 11, after they participated in a protest against Cuban leader Fidel Castro and the detention of hundreds of political prisoners, including many Christians.

The women, who demonstrated with dissidents Monday, December 10 in Havana during events to mark International Human Rights Day were surrounded and jostled by Castro loyalists, television footage showed.

Government supporters, apparently coordinated by state security agents, booed dissidents and shouted “Viva Fidel” for ailing Cuban leader Castro, who has not appeared in public in 16 months.

The Spanish women were eventually forced back to their hotel by police officers. Cuban authorities reportedly seized their passports and airline tickets and told them to stay in their hotel. They were later deported and several dissidents were detained, witnesses said.

UN Monitoring

The incidents happened as Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said Cuba will accept regular United Nations monitoring of its human rights record from 2009.

We’re announcing today the decision taken by the Cuban Government to sign in the first semester of next year the two accords on human rights – the international accord of economic, social and cultural rights and the international accord on civil and political rights,” he said, adding that agreements would be signed early next year.

Cuba denies anyone is imprisoned for their political or religious beliefs, labeling all dissidents as foreign-paid mercenaries. The minister said Cuba will commit to allowing freedom of expression and association and the right to travel abroad, among other things. “In the future I can confirm that our Government will invite additional special procedures of the human rights commission,” he added.

Veteran rights activist Elizardo Sanchez said it was a “positive” step, but wondered whether Cuba would comply and set free some 240 Cubans in prison for political reasons, Reuters news agency reported. (With BosNewsLife Monitoring and reporting from Cuba ).