|Prison sentence on return is not sufficient evidence|
by Redaktie in History & Politics , 29 May 2018
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Disappointment for hundreds of Cuban asylum seekers. There will be no situation report on Cuba. LGBT Asylum Support is extremely disappointed that there will be no thematic situation report made on LGBTI people in Cuba. State Secretary Mark Harbers has informed the organization of this by letter.
The situation report was requested by the Dutch Lower House in the context of the report The Cuban LGBTI Black Book: No Freedom, No Rights. This report consisting of 116 pages is written by LGBT Asylum Support and describes the harrowing fate of Cuban LGBTI people that apply for asylum in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands deem Cuba a safe country of origin. The asylum requests from Cuban asylum seekers are rejected after just a short asylum procedure. What the Dutch government does not take into account is that LGBTI people in Cuba are seen as counter-revolutionary opponents. According to the Cuban Human Rights Observatory OCDH and legal consultancy firm Lexinter, LGBTI people who are sent back to Cuba are at great risk of being sent to prison. They therefore deserve the status of risk group or vulnerable minority group, in order for them to still qualify for asylum.
State Secretary Mark Harbers states as the reason for not requesting a situation report that, from various public and confidential sources, sufficient reliable and objective information is indeed available on the situation of LGBTI people in Cuba. He will therefore not request a situation report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the basis of this information, he also sees no reason to classify LGBTI asylum seekers from Cuba as a risk group or vulnerable minority group.
LGBT Asylum Support regrets the State Secretary's response. The organization thinks that it has sufficiently substantiated why LGBTI people from Cuba deserve protection from the Dutch state. The report, for instance, includes an example of a Cuban arrest warrant issued against an LGBTI person.
Activist and journalist Victor Manuel Dueños Otero qualifies the Secretary of State's letter as a serious form of disrespect. He finds it incomprehensible that, in a way, Cuba is considered a safe place and that human rights violations and lack of democracy are ignored. Where are the values such as justice, democracy and human rights that you hold high in your country? he asks the State Secretary. A Cuban political leader from the twentieth century once said: "Shame on Money. I think that is key here.
On April 11, the rapport The Cuban LGBTI Black Book was discussed in the Security and Justice Committee. Members of various parties have asked the State Secretary questions about this, which have yet to be answered. The Black Book was also symbolically presented to Queen Maxima as part of a demonstration in front of the Dutch Lower House.
From November 2017 onwards, LGBT Asylum Support and the COC noticed a huge influx of LGBTI asylum seekers from Cuba. Schiphol Airport changed into Little Havana in no time. For a long time, it was unclear on what basis they applied for asylum and what the underlying problems in their country of origin were. As Cuba is seen as a safe country of origin, the cycle seems to continue endlessly, also because of the swift exit procedures. Asylum applications were rejected immediately. It was difficult to follow the group because of deportation or leaving for another European country.
Late February, COC Netherlands had already sent a letter to Secretary of State Mark Harbers and the Lower House with the request to make asylum for this group easier.
Early April 2018, LGBT Asylum support had compiled the 116-page report. In addition to translations of worrying annual reports of Cuban Human Rights Observatory OCDH, it also contains extensive investigations by legal consultancy firm Lexinter. The heart of the Cuban LGBTI Black Book is formed by thirty stories of LGBTI refugees who cannot possibly return to their country of origin.
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