Christian rights group slams new Cuban law restricting freedom of speech

Thursday, August 19, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - The international rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has publicly condemned a new law issued by the Cuban government which restricts freedom of speech online by criminalizing calls to peaceful protest and criticism of the government. Touted as a ‘cybersecurity law, Legal Decree 35 was published on August 17 in the wake of last month’s nationwide protests against the government.

Protests across Cuba were sparked on 11 July after images of a protest march in the town of San Antonio de los Baños were shared widely on social media.

“Despite a harsh government crackdown, including the arbitrary detention of over 800 people across the island, many Cubans have continued to openly criticize the government and make calls for change via their social media accounts,” CSW said in an August 18 statement published on its website.

Under Legal Decree 35 it is illegal to share online content that ‘violates the constitutional, social and economic precepts of the State, that incites mobilizations or other acts that affect public order; that spreads messages that justify violence, accidents of any kind that affect the privacy and dignity of people,’ CSW said. Such content will be considered ‘cyberterrorism.’

Head of Advocacy, Anna-Lee Stangl added: “Legal Decree 35 makes it clear that as far as the Cuban Communist Party is concerned, there is no space for any kind of dissent on the island. Cubans will be unable to comment honestly on the reality of their lives without fear of being charged with cyberterrorism; this includes religious associations and leaders who speak out on issues that affect freedom of religion or belief as well as wider issues facing Cuban society.”