Prison amnesty for almost 3,000 Cuban prisoners
News from Cuba | Monday, 26 December 2011
President Raul Castro announced that almost 3,000 prisoners would be freed in December as a humanitarian gesture. A full transcript of this announcement is reprinted below:
"Before concluding, I must inform this Assembly that, in a humanitarian and sovereign gesture, the Council of State has agreed to pardon more than 2,900 prisoners.
These include women, sick individuals, those over 60 years of age and also young people who have raised their educational levels and possibilities of social reintegration.
Not included in this pardon, with very few exceptions, are individuals convicted of crimes of espionage, terrorism, murder, homicide, drug trafficking, pederasty with violence, rape and corruption of minors and robbery with violence in inhabited homes. However, certain individuals convicted of crimes against the security of the state, who have completed a large portion of their prison terms with good behavior, will be released.
In a systematic way and in annual figures higher than those included in this pardon, in accordance with existing legal regulations, the People's Supreme Court, the Attorney General of the Republic and the specialized units of the Ministry of the Interior will be evaluating and arranging the early release of prisoners, taking into account conduct, characteristics of acts committed and family and health situation, in addition to many requests from family members and a number of religious institutions, among them the Council of Churches of Cuba and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, through its president.
The announced visit to Cuba by Pope Benedict XVI and the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, have also been taken into account.
The pardon will become effective in the next few days, as another demonstration of the generosity and strength of the Revolution.
At the same time, we have stated our willingness to grant the early release of 86 foreign citizens from 25 countries, including 13 women convicted in the courts for crimes committed in Cuba, on the prior condition that the governments of their countries of origin accept their repatriation.
Through diplomatic channels, the required information will soon be reaching those governments via appropriate authorities."