Artist Danilo Maldonado has still not been formally charged after 90 days of imprisonment
Havana, Cuba, 25 March 2015.-Danilo Maldonado, known as “El Sexto” (the Sixth), is still being held in prison after his arbitrary arrest three months ago today.
Maldonado, 31, an urban artist, has been accused of “aggravated contempt,” a legal term used by the Cuban state to jail people who often criticize the government. To date he has has spent 90 days at an interim prison in Valle Grande, on the outskirts of the capital.
On the afternoon of December 25, 2014, Maldonado was on his way to give a show in Havana when the police detained him. They arrested him for carrying two pigs in a bag. One had “Fidel” and the other had “Raúl” painted on their backs.
Despite both names being common the authorities assumed that they were disrespecting the Castro brothers, and could give Maldonado a sentence of between one and three years in prison. Cubalex presented a request to the Havana court that the authorities explain the reason for his detention; their appeal was rejected.
The prosecution has still not formally presented an indictment to the court. On several occasions Maldonado’s lawyer has requested that the authorities allow him to await his trail in freedom, these appeals were also rejected.
In Cuban law the crime of “contempt” is a broad term, which includes defamation or insults against government officials and implicates severe penalties when it is against the Head of State. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has stated that this type of regulation is a threat to freedom of expression and the demonstration of ideas and opinion; therefore imposing sanctions is unjustified.
It is important to remember that all people in important public or political posts, such as the Head of State or government officials, can be the legitimate objects of criticism and political opposition. Freedom of expression must have its place in public debate regarding government officials, without suppression.
We request that the Cuban state guarantees and respects Danilo Maldonado’s right to freedom of expression, without restrictions. We also ask the international community to speak out for his freedom and the right to due process.
Cubalex Legal Information Center’s headquarters are in Havana, Cuba. The not-for-profit was founded in 2010, and is not recognized by the Cuban state. Cubalex offers free legal advice on national and international issues to any Cuban nationals and foreigners who ask for guidance on housing, migration, inheritance, labor, revision of the criminal code, constitutional law and defense of civil and political rights.
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