The UK All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief calls on Cuba to strengthen the protection of freedom of religion or belief in the country’s new constitution. The APPG also expresses concern about the harassment and intimidation of Cuban religious leaders and activists who are advocating for stronger protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief.
The draft constitution was produced in 2018 by Cuba’s National Assembly. It omitted several points of protection for freedom of religion or belief, as well as the words “freedom of conscience,” which had been included in the country’s previous constitution. The draft constitution also does not include language from Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Cuba signed in 2008, and which sets the international standard for the protection of freedom of religion or belief.
During the constitutional drafting process, there have been widespread reports of the harassment and intimidation of advocates of the right to freedom of religion or belief. CSW reports that currently two churches in Santiago and Havana are under threat of demolition.
Cuba’s Constitutional Commission is reviewing proposals for changes to the first draft of the new constitution. This follows months of public consultation. It is expected that the Commission will submit a revised draft for approval by the National Assembly in January. In February 2019, Cubans will vote on the new constitution through a public referendum.
The APPG urges the Cuban government to strengthen the protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief in the new Constitution by including freedom of conscience and language protecting freedom of religion or belief that is in line with international laws and standards. The APPG further calls on the UK Government to engage its Cuban counterparts on this issue and to encourage them to do all they can to protect Cuban religious leaders and activists from threats and harassment.