EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index:AMR 25/15/93
EXTRA 95/93 Death Penalty 5 November 1993
CUBA: Félix OVIEDO AGUILERA
According to Cuban news agency reports dated 4 November 1993, Félix Oviedo
Aguilera has been sentenced to death by a Havana court after being convicted
of murder and armed robbery for an attack on a Havana bus on 2 August 1993
in which a youth was killed when he was thrown from the vehicle through a window.
Some 22 other people were sentenced to between six months' and thirty years'
imprisonment, either for being directly involved in the attack, failing to
denounce it or receiving stolen goods.
The sentence passed on Félix Oviedo Aguilera will now be reviewed by the Tribunal
Supremo Popular, People's Supreme Court, and, if confirmed, will automatically
be considered by the Consejo de Estado, Council of State, which is presided
by President Fidel Castro and has the power to grant clemency. The review
process and execution has in some cases in the past taken only a matter of
days or weeks. The death penalty is carried out by firing squad.
This is the fourth death sentence to be passed in recent weeks and comes in
the wake of statements from the authorities vowing to crack down on crime and
internal unrest following a spate of incidents of vandalism that took place
during the month of August, apparently as a result of frustration over economic
hardships. The authorities accused so-called "counter-revolutionaries" of
having instigated such activities.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation
of the right to life and of the right not to be be subjected to cruel, inhuman
and degrading treatment or punishment, as proclaimed in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. Concern about the use of the death penalty in
Cuba is exacerbated by the lack, or inadequacy in practice, of full judicial
guarantees, particularly the right to adequate defence and especially if there
is a political element to the case.
Cuba maintains the death penalty for a large number of offences. Nevertheless,
in recent years there appears to have been a reduction in the number of executions
carried out. According to official statistics provided to Amnesty
International by the Minister of Justice in 1988, 12 executions took place
between 1984 and 1987; 11 for common crimes, mainly murder, and one for
terrorism, a crime against state security. In a number of other cases the
death sentence had been commuted on appeal. Statistics after 1988 are not
publicly available but Amnesty International is aware of the following cases:
four senior army officers were executed in 1989 after being convicted by a
court martial on a number of charges including hostile acts towards a foreign
state, drug-trafficking and abusing their official positions; at least two
people were executed for murder during 1991; and three people were executed
in early 1992, one for terrorism and sabotage and two for murder and piracy.