07.04.2003 -

Director-General voices grave concern about Freedom of expression in Cuba

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today voiced concern over freedom of expression and press freedom in Cuba following the arrest of at least 24 Cuban journalists and dozens of human rights activists whose trial began on April 3.

"I am very concerned about the situation of freedom of expression and press freedom in Cuba," the Director-General declared. "Reports reaching us regarding the case of the 24 journalists and the human rights activists, said to total 78, are worrying."

 

"Promoting the free flow of ideas by word and image is part of UNESCO's Constitution. Freedom of expression is a basic right, recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am very concerned that the arrest and trials represent a serious infringement of the rights and principles that the United Nations and UNESCO were created to uphold."

 

Commenting on the trials, Mr Matsuura declared: "Reports are reaching us that the defendants have not had access to proper legal council and that international observers and media are being barred from the hearings. I strongly urge the Cuban authorities to respect the fundamental rights of journalists and the other individuals arrested for speaking their mind."




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