Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cuba rejects Western calls to free jailed critics

Cuba rejects Western calls to free jailed critics
Mon Feb 9, 2009 2:57pm EST

GENEVA (Reuters) - Cuba rejected calls from Western countries on Monday
to release jailed critics of its communist system and told the U.N.
Human Rights Council such demands violated its sovereign rights.

The Cuban position was set out in a report on discussions last week in
the Council's Universal Periodic Review mechanism on the island's human
rights record, which was widely praised by developing countries.

During the review, the call for the release of those Western countries
regard as political prisoners -- and which Cuba denies it has -- came
from Austria, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Israel, the
Netherlands and Slovakia.

These recommendations, a Cuban statement said, were not acceptable
"because they are incompatible with the Cuban people's right to
self-determination (and) because they are not based on reality."

It said the Western calls, which included recommendations on ensuring
media freedom and freedom of expression, reflected support "for the
policy of regime change applied to Cuba by successive U.S. administrations."

In a separate comment included in the Council report, it also made the
same charge.

"No country can accept any recommendation that contributes to the
implementation of a policy designed by a foreign superpower with the
objective of destroying the legitimate constitutional order freely
chosen by its people," it said.

(Editing by Jonathan Lynn)

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