Preliminary conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry

Thursday, March 13, 2014

International Commission of Inquiry, London 7th and 8th March

Preliminary conclusions of the three Commissioners

It is appropriate that these preliminary thoughts on this hearing, a hearing that could make some contribution to the realisation of the human rights in general and the fair trial rights in particular, of five Cuban human beings be placed in the public domain now.  All these persons, are Cuban nationals: Mr.  Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Mr.  Ramón Labañino Salazar, Mr.  Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Mr.  Fernando González Llort, and Mr.  René González were all convicted in the United States of America during 2001 of certain state security related offences.  Mr.  Hernández was, in addition, convicted of a conspiracy to commit murder.

We plead fervently that the course of action suggested by us below be adopted for the reasons that follow, reasons that will be elaborated in the report to follow:

1.  There are serious concerns about whether any of these people have had the full benefit of the fundamental human right to a fair and speedy trial before an independent and impartial tribunal or Court, recognized universally in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as ratified by the United States of America.

These material concerns emerge in the light of facts like:

a. all five Cuban Nationals were placed in solitary confinement for about seventeen months before the trial began;

b.  none of them have had sufficient access to documents relevant to the trial and necessary for the adequate preparation of a defense;

c. the opportunity to consult with their legal representatives was, in all the circumstances, less than sufficient;

d. the trial was held in a part of Miami, Florida where, according to three respected judges of the Eleventh Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, a fair trial could not be guaranteed;

e.  Serious allegations have been made that the United States Government paid the media to ensure prejudicial publicity against these persons both before and during the trial;

f.  these five human beings were certain of their fate only eight years after the trial in the District Court had been concluded.

2.  According to all the judgments not one of these persons either committed or intended to commit any act of violence.

3.  No conduct of any of these persons was aimed at the United States of America or its Government.  The Cuban Five gathered information aimed at preventing privately-inspired violence and other anti-Cuban action emanating from United States soil.

4.  The perception of the Cuban Five, indeed their firm belief, that the United States Government was not doing enough to stem violent anti-Cuban action from United States soil.

5.  There is no doubt at all that hundreds of compatriots and countrymen who were ordinary citizens of Cuba have died in unacceptably horrendous circumstances as a result of the actions of Cubans opposed to the Castro government in Cuba from United States soil.  The families of the deceased would have suffered immeasurably. 

6.  Two of the members of this group of persons have already served their full sentences, and there can be no prejudice in pardoning them now.

7.  The other three persons have, in any event, already served inordinately long periods of imprisonment in all the relevant circumstances summarised in this statement.

8.  The families of these people have undergone tremendous suffering and hardship in consequence of the internment of their loved ones, and it can be said without any fear of contradiction that enough is enough.

9.  None of these persons acted out of malice or any kind of ill-will towards the United States or its government, people, or policies: each of them was carrying out the instructions of their government.

10.  Private anti-Cuban aggression from American soil is quite impossible to be justified from any viewpoint.

11.  It is urged that the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States is a laudable and achievable goal, in the interests of both the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba, and that the generous grant of pardons by the President of the United States of America to the people who have been described as the Cuban Five will contribute immeasurably to the achievement of this vitally important purpose.

12.  The President of the United States is also respectfully informed of the prevailing reasonable view that it is important to signal that the achievement of fairness and justice is not the preserve of the judiciary alone of any country, but, ultimately, a vital political responsibility that must be embraced when the moment comes.

13.  It is suggested, with the greatest of respect, that the grant of these pardons will have a significant impact on world justice and world peace.

In summary, the granting of unconditional Presidential pardons to the members of the Cuban Five has the real potential to achieve effective justice for the five human beings who have been the concern of this enquiry, demonstrate the adherence of the President of the United States of America and its Government today to universally accepted norms of morality, fairness and justice, contribute substantially to the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba and represent a meaningful stride towards world justice and world peace.

Having heard two full days of compelling evidence, we would urge the President of the United States of America, President Barack Obama, to pardon completely all these five persons and to release immediately and unconditionally the three persons who continue to languish in prison in the United States. 

These preliminary conclusions were drafted and signed by the three Commissions:

Commissioner Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob, South Africa, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa

Commissioner Philippe Texier, France, former Judge French Cour de Cassation

Commissioner Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal, India, former Chief Justice

Coordinators of the International Inquiry Commission

Professor Sara Chandler, UK, solicitor, Chair of the Human Rights Committee of Law Society of England & Wales

Elizabeth Woodcraft, UK, barrister and author