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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Cuban political prisoners to be released

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Following this weeks visit by the Spanish Foreign Minister the Cuban government have agreed to release 52 political prisoners. The European Union has been pressing Cuba to release its political prisoners for some time, and this pressure was substantially increased following the death in custody of a political dissident in February. His death prompted another dissident to launch a hunger strike that has lasted more than 130 days.


Five detainees would be freed soon and allowed to depart for Spain, accompanied by their relatives. The rest will be freed in the next few months. The Spanish Foreign Minister indicated that Spain was willing to take in all 52 prisoners, who were arrested in a major government crackdown in 2003. The releases will leave 110 political prisoners in Cuban jails, according to the island’s leading human rights group, the Cuban Commission on Human Rights.


On Tuesday during Foreign Office questions in the House of Commons Meg raised the issue of the political prisoners with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague.


Meg Munn: I thank the Foreign Secretary for his answer. He will be aware that the Spanish Foreign Minister is due to visit Cuba to increase the pressure for the release of its political prisoners. Can the Foreign Secretary update the House on what the Government are doing to put pressure on the Cuban authorities to release non-violent political prisoners, who have been held in jail for far too long?


Mr Hague: That pressure comes from the whole European Union. We discussed the position in Cuba at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 14 June, so the message that we seek the release of political prisoners in Cuba if we are to start improving relations with Cuba in other ways goes out unequivocally from the whole European Union.


Commenting on the release of the prisoners Meg said:


“This is excellent news and shows that pressure by the European Union does bring results. I hope we can persuade Cuba to go further and release more in the coming months and show more progress in moving toward a democratic political system.


Cuba improving its human rights record helps in normalising relations with the European Union. Cuba does have friends in Europe.”


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