[JURIST] The number of political prisoners in Cuba [JURIST archive] has decreased from 283 at the end of 2006 to to 234 at the end of 2007, but human rights abuses continue in the communist Caribbean state, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) [El Pais backgrounder, in Spanish] Wednesday. The CCDHRN, led by Cuban human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez, is the only independent source of information regarding political arrests in Cuba. The group is considered illegal by the Cuban government, but its existence and operation is tolerated by the regime. In August 2007, the group estimated that the number of political prisoners in detention had dropped by over 20 percent, from 316 to 246, since acting President Raul Castro assumed duties from Cuban President Fidel Castro [official profile], but said the provisional government had done little to improve human rights. The Cuban government officially denies the existence of political prisoners. Reuters has more.
Sanchez reported in December that the Cuban government had increased its arrest and harassment of political activists [BBC report] in advance of International Human Rights Day on December 11. Last month, Cuba agreed to sign an international human rights pact [JURIST report] and admit UN rights observers into the country. In September 2007, the government detained at least 40 protesters [JURIST report] demanding humane treatment of political prisoners. In August 2007, Cuba released two political dissidents from detention [JURIST report].