Cuba, for the first time, will allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit political prisoners inside Cuban jails, the organization’s president said Wednesday.
“President Fidel Castro told me the ICRC will be authorized to see prisoners jailed for crimes against the security of the state,” Cornelio Sommaruga told a news conference at the end of a three-day visit to the Communist-ruled island.
He did not specify when such visits might take place but said they would be unspectacular, confidential and in conformity with Red Cross standards of carrying out a strictly humanitarian mission.
Castro had said last November that he would be willing to have the ICRC investigate the status of human rights in Cuban prisons.
But Sommaruga, who held a two-hour meeting with Castro, said his organization only tries to improve, when necessary and possible, conditions of detention.
Access by the Red Cross to all Cuban prisoners was sought in a U.S. resolution presented at the U.N. Human Rights Commission’s annual meeting last month in Geneva. The resolution was never voted on, but the commission adopted a motion containing a Cuban invitation for a U.N. investigating team to visit.