[JURIST] The government of Cuba [JURIST news archive] Thursday detained at least forty protesters who gathered outside the Ministry of Justice to demand humane treatment for the country's estimated 250 political prisoners. All but one of those detained were released on Friday, but former political prisoner Jose Luis Garcia Perez, who was released in April, reported that he had been beaten while in custody. According to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights, most of these prisoners live in unsanitary conditions and lack clean water, enough food, and medical attention. During a hearing [recorded video] before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [official website] in July, the Cuban Democratic Directorate [advocacy website; press release] claimed that the International Committee of the Red Cross [official website] has not been permitted to inspect Cuban prisons since 1989.
Human rights groups estimate that the number of political prisoners in detention has dropped by over 20 percent since acting president Raul Castro assumed duties from Cuban President Fidel Castro [BBC profiles] on July 31, 2006. The Castro government released two dissidents [JURIST report] in August; however, it denies the existence of political prisoners in Cuba. AFP has more. El Pais has additional coverage [in Spanish].