Press Release — HRF to UN: Inquire into Death Threats Against Rosa María Payá in Cuba

GENEVA — Yesterday, Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions (U.N. Special Rapporteur).

The appeal requested that the rapporteur call on the Cuban government to provide an official and comprehensive explanation regarding the state’s treatment of Rosa María Payá. The daughter of late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, Rosa María has suffered death threats and acts of intimidation at the hands of state security forces while campaigning on the island.

“Through peaceful initiatives like Cuba Decide — a campaign that seeks a referendum which would allow Cubans to vote to change the constitution to allow for free and fair elections — Rosa María is continuing the brave work begun by her father almost 20 years ago,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “It is an outrage that she is facing the same hurdles encountered by her father many decades ago: smear campaigns, surveillance, harassment, imprisonments, and, most worryingly, death threats. Despite the propaganda, nothing has changed for those in Cuba who, after 57 years under the dictatorship’s iron grip, still long for freedom. We ask the Special Rapporteur to adopt all necessary measures to prevent another tragedy from happening to this family,” he concluded.

Last month, HRF and Rosa María met with representatives from the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, including the U.N. Special Rapporteur, and presented the conclusions of HRF’s 2015 legal report, which strongly suggests that Oswaldo Payá’s 2012 death was an extrajudicial execution carried out by the Cuban government.

While primarily addressed to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, HRF’s petition was also submitted for the consideration of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

HRF is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

Contact: Noemi Gonzalo-Bilbao, (212) 246-8486, noemi@hrf.org

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