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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Cuba will open up to a U.N. human rights expert for first time in a decade

Cuba will open up to a U.N. human rights expert for first time in a decade
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
mwhitefield@miamiherald.com

The first independent United Nations human rights expert to visit Cuba
in a decade will travel to the island next week.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, a member of the
United Nation's Human Rights Council and special rapporteur on
trafficking in persons, with an emphasis on women and children, will
arrive in Cuba on Monday and stay for five days, the United Nations said
in a statement from Geneva on Wednesday.

Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Relations confirmed the upcoming visit
Thursday and said Giammarinaro was making the trip at the invitation of
the Cuban government.

"Aware that human trafficking violates the human rights of the victims,
the Cuban government has maintained a zero tolerance policy for this
crime," the Cuban Embassy at the U.N. office in Geneva said.

"My visit is an opportunity to meet relevant authorities and key people
and groups, to determine the progress made and the challenges Cuba faces
in addressing trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation, as well as
any other forms of trafficking," Giammarinaro said. "Particular
attention will be paid to measures in place and those planned to prevent
trafficking, to protect victims and provide them with access to
effective remedies."

During her trip to Havana, Matanzas and Artemisa, Giammarinaro will meet
with members of civil society organizations fighting against
people-trafficking as well as government officials.

She is expected to present her preliminary findings at a news conference
at Havana's International Press Center on April 14, and her
recommendations will be included in an official report to be presented
to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2018.

Currently a judge of the Civil Court of Rome, Giammarinaro was appointed
as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and
children, by the Human Rights Council in June 2014. She works on a
voluntary basis and is not a member of the U.N. staff.

Giammarinaro has a long history in combating human trafficking, and
drafted the European Union directive on preventing and combating
trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.

"Over the past year my mandate has focused on the link between
trafficking in persons and conflict and particularly has looked at the
vulnerabilities of persons fleeing conflict to become trafficked,
especially refugees and asylum seekers," Giammarinaro said during a
speech in March.

Combating human trafficking was one of the dialogues begun between the
United States and Cuba under the Obama administration's rapprochement
with Havana.

The last U.N. human rights expert to visit Cuba was the special
rapporteur on the right to food.

Follow Mimi Whitefield on Twitter: @HeraldMimi

Source: U.N. human rights expert will visit Cuba April 10-14 | Miami
Herald -
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article143157969.html
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