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Cuba13 January 2004

Prison guards brutally beat jailed Cuban journalist

Reporters Without Borders has strongly condemned an assault against a journalist who was brutally beaten by prison guards in the provincial Guantánamo prison, eastern Cuba, and urged the authorities to punish his assailants and to protect prisoners from further harm.

Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona was taken from his cell by three prison guards on 31 December and dragged to room where they beat him about the face and body. They also deliberately shut his leg in a door. He told his wife Elsa González Padrón in a telephone call on 7 January that he was still suffering from the after effects of the attack.

"It is the second time in a month that a jailed journalist has been attacked," said Robert Ménard, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders. "The Cuban authorities are responsible for the state of health of the 30 journalists imprisoned in Cuba for having exercised their right to freedom of opinion as guaranteed by several international treaties ratified by this country."

The journalist was attacked after complaining about being transferred to Building 4B of the prison where 235 common-law prisoners are locked up in appalling conditions. Common-law prisoners are often made use of by the authorities to harass political prisoners.

The journalist’s wife said she was also very concerned about the state of health of her husband who suffers from heart and liver problems and whose blood pressure is unstable. He was put in solitary confinement during the summer of 2003 for protesting against ill treatment meted out to another prisoner.

Another independent imprisoned journalist Juan Adolfo Fernández Saínz was physically attacked by a common-law prisoner on 6 December as he tried to dissuade him from beating a fellow prisoner. No action was taken against his assailant.

Arroyo Carmona was arrested with 26 other independent journalists and 50 other dissidents in an unprecedented crackdown in March 2003. They were sentenced to terms from six to 28 years in prison.

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