For the first time, the Department of Migration has granted refugee status to Cuban nationals forced to flee their country because of persecution.
The decision is based on information from the country of origin confirming that human rights are systematically violated in Cuba where the government continues to deny its citizens their basic civil and political rights. The authorities do not tolerate any unauthorised opposition to the political agenda and the law criminalises dissent. As confirmed by case law in other countries, the term “dissident” in the Cuban context does not refer to a homogeneous group of people, but can refer to any person who engages in activities that the authorities consider contrary to their political agenda. Individuals who are perceived by the Cuban authorities as opponents, dissidents or defectors may face treatment amounting to persecution. Whether a particular person is at risk depends on his or her background and profile, but in general, the risk is real to any active political opponent who has come to the attention of the authorities or to a person who has been openly disloyal to the regime.
Cuban officials also systematically detain independent journalists and artists. Cuban citizens who have applied for international protection in Lithuania with assistance of ReL ex lawyers are active members of the San Isidro artists’ movement, which has protested against censorship and the persecution of opponents. No Cuban has been granted refugee status in Lithuania before. ReLex appreciates the valuable guidance and assistance from the Human Rights Monitoring Institute which made this possible.