Although it didn’t come soon enough, Amnesty supporters can welcome the release of Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, Cuban lawyer, independent journalist and now former prisoner of conscience. He returned home on 4 September 2020, after serving his one-year sentence.
To mark World Press Freedom Day in May, over 4000 Amnesty supporters from across Canada spoke out for Roberto’s freedom, highlighting to authorities that his underlying health conditions put him at particular risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. During his detention since September 2019, Roberto Quiñones Haces regularly reported the prison conditions in which he was held. On 31 March, he wrote in Cubanet that even though prison authorities implemented certain measures regarding COVID-19, “the quality of the food is still deplorable. Despite reports of the vulnerability of older adults (prisoners over 60) to COVID-19, many of them are kept in cubicles where they live in overcrowded conditions with almost two dozen people.”
Although it is good news that Roberto Quiñones is finally home, his conviction and imprisonment for merely expressing his opinions, should never have happened. The Municipal Court of Guantánamo had sentenced him in August 2019 for resistance and disobedience.
After his release, Roberto thanked Amnesty International deeply for all the support and hard work on his behalf and reconfirmed his commitment to defend independent journalism and freedom of expression in Cuba. Amnesty International will continue to monitor his situation.