Cuban lawmakers approve new legal rights for citizens


The Cuban National Assembly on Thursday approved new legal rights for citizens after the government came under heavy criticism earlier this year for its handling of protests.

The changes, which follow an update to the country’s constitution in 2019 and will come into effect next year, aim to strengthen protection for those accused of crimes and allow citizens to access their own court documents. , according to Reuters.

The defendants will now be informed of the charges against them and those detained will have access to a lawyer within 24 hours, Reuters reported.

Cuban lawyer Eloy Viera, who currently lives in Canada, told the news agency that the new law marks a big step forward for the country.

“This law offers more guarantees and respects international standards much more than the regulations currently in force,” said Viera.

However, William LeoGrande, professor of government at the American University in Washington, said how Cuba decides to implement the laws will determine the level of protection its citizens actually receive.

“Laws (…) always give officials considerable discretion and only time will tell how they use it, especially in political affairs,” he reportedly said.

Viera added that he was not sure the new law would be applied to citizens who participated in the July protests aimed at ending food shortages and high prices due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I do not think that this new legislation will have a definitive influence on the processes already initiated today, and politically motivated, by the demonstrators of July 11,” he said.

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