A court in Cuba has upheld the sentence against the imprisoned Protestant pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo and 14 others, who appealed their convictions on charges relating to their participation in unprecedented nationwide protests on 11 July 2021.
During the trial which took place between 22 and 23 June, only the prosecutor’s side was permitted to give evidence, which included the testimonies of at least 12 policemen.
After Reverend Rosales Fajardo’s appeal was rejected, his wife Maridilegnis Carballo told CSW: “We can’t wait for another reaction from this judging system, this is a farce.”
Reverend Rosales Fajardo was violently arrested after participating in peaceful protests that took place across the island on 11 July 2021. He has been imprisoned in Boniato Maximum Security Prison since August 2021, and was tried and convicted of charges of ‘disrespect’, ‘assault’, ‘criminal incitement’ and ‘public disorder’ on 20 and 21 December 2021.
In May 2022 he and his family were informed he had been sentenced to seven years in prison, which was one year less than the eight-year sentence that was initially communicated in a document sent from the Permanent Mission of Cuba in Geneva to the United Nations (UN).
The pastor has been targeted by the government for over a decade because of his leadership of an unregistered church in the city of Palma Soriano.
CSW’s Head of Advocacy Anna Lee Stangl said: “CSW is disappointed but not surprised that the Cuban authorities have rejected Reverend Rosales Fajardo’s appeal. They have continued to inflict misery on this innocent man and his family, as well as many others who should never have been imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights to peaceful association and assembly. We call on the authorities to reconsider this unjust decision, to release Pastor Lorenzo and all those detained in relation to the 11 July protests immediately and without condition, and to create an enabling environment for the exercise of fundamental human rights for all citizens. The international community must continue to follow this case closely, holding Cuba to account in both bilateral and multilateral fora.”