Date: September 18, 2020
With Mr Quiñones Haces’s release confirmed, CSW can now report that Ramón Rigal was also released from prison earlier this year in June. Both Ramón and Adya were imprisoned for removing their children from the state-run school system due to teacher-led bullying. The news could not be shared until Mr Quiñones Haces’s release due to concerns about repercussions in his case.
Mr Quiñones Haces, 63, was imprisoned on 11 September 2019 on charges of ‘disobedience’ and ‘resistance’ because of his work as an independent journalist. During his imprisonment, numerous international human rights organisations, including Article 19, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and Amnesty International, called for his release.
He was reportedly targeted in order to prevent him from covering the trial of Cuban pastors Ramón Rigal and Adya Expósito Leyva. The couple, both residents of Guantánamo City, received prison sentences in April 2019 after they chose to remove their children from the government-run school system because of their concerns about teacher-led bullying of their children due to their religious beliefs, and the uncompromising secularist curriculum.
Pastor Expósito Leyva was released on 29 March 2020, after serving over 11 months of an 18 month sentence. Her husband Ramón was released on 25 June after serving 14 months of a two-year sentence. For much of his imprisonment, Pastor Rigal was placed in a maximum-security unit where he was denied conditional freedom and was permitted only one visit per month.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “While CSW welcomes the release of Roberto Quiñones Haces, and pastors Ramón Rigal and Adya Expósito Leyva, they should never have been imprisoned. The situation for human rights in Cuba remains highly concerning and we call on the government of Cuba to ensure full respect for all human rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression. We continue to call for the release of all remaining prisoners of conscience, who must be permitted to enjoy their freedom without fear of further harassment or arrest.”