Washington D.C. October 23, 2019. The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) warns about serious violations of the human rights of the Cuban activist Nancy Alfaya, who was arbitrarily detained yesterday afternoon and whose whereabouts are still unknown.
Nancy Alfaya and Jorge Olivera, both Afro-Cuban artists and activists, were arrested at around 3:30 p.m. by State Security agents as they were leaving the U.S. Embassy after attending an activity. According to the testimony of activist Marthadela Tamayo from the Citizens’ Committee for Racial Integration (CIR, for its initials in Spanish), Alfaya contacted her before being arrested and informed her that she would be taken to the San Miguel de Padrón Police Unit, which she heard from the officers. Activist Iván Hernández Carrillo managed to capture images of the arrest.
“To date, Nancy Alfaya’s whereabouts are unknown” reported multiple messages by Cuban activists and Cuban civil society organizations on social media.
Although Jorge Olivera was abandoned in the street of another municipality, Nancy Alfaya is still missing.
“When Jorge Olivera went to the San Miguel del Padrón Unit – where they had allegedly taken Ms. Alfaya – to ask about her whereabouts, the officers told him that she was never taken to that unit. Likewise, when he called the Central Unit that has the registry of detainees, he was told that Nancy does not appear under any unit,” adds Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna, director of the CIR.
Jorge Olivera, Alfaya’s husband, also visited the police units of Zanja and Dragones, but was not able to get any information about Alfaya. Afterwards, Mr. Olivera filed an appeal for habeas corpus, but didn’t receive any response.
Nancy Alfaya is an activist of the CIR and independent artist. This is the third time in October that she has been arbitrarily detained by State Security agents, who have also broken into cultural events organized by the activist. Despite the multiple arrests, this is the first time that the authorities have detained Alfaya for more than 24 hours.
To date, Nancy Alfaya’s family members are unaware of the activist’s whereabouts and the reason for her detention.
We denounce these serious violations of Cuba’s laws and the authorities’ lack of respect for due process and for their duty to guarantee Alfaya’s rights as well as serious transgressions of the international human rights obligations of the Cuban State.
According to article 244 of the Criminal Procedure Law, once a person is arrested, police officers must immediately deliver a record to the person stating the time, date and reason for the detention. Additionally, when an express request is made by the detainee or their relatives, the police or other authority must report on “the detention and the place where the detainee is found”. Furthermore, the new Cuban Constitution grants the right to the detained person to “communicate with their relatives or close friends, immediately”.
In relation to international treaties, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Cuban State is a signatory, establishes that “[every] detained person must be informed, at the time of their arrest, of the reasons for the same, and notified, without delay, of the accusation made against them”. The Cuban State has not fulfilled any of these obligations.
Race and Equality strongly condemns the actions that transgress the rights and freedoms of activist Nancy Alfaya, demonstrating once again that the Cuban State has not changed its modus operandi concerning the arbitrary detention of activists, even after the approval of the new Constitution.
We urge the international community to pronounce on these facts that assail the human rights of Cuban activists, who continue to be systematically subjected to violations, repression, and arbitrary treatment from the Cuban regime.