Friday, May 1, 2009

About the Official Citation

Photo montage: Lia Villares

After the citations we received in the case of Ciro’s detentions, and in the warning letter for OLPL, we realize that at the very least we need a primer of the laws in order to be able to demand that the Cuban authorities respect legislation when they “cite us” or “apply to us” some kind of penalty.

So this Wednesday Laritza Diversent, independent journalist, blogger, lawyer and vice president of the Cuban Association of Jurists, came to our blogger meeting. Among other things she discovered that my citation was invalid, it didn’t meet the requirements of Article 111, which says that only a magistrate, judge or prosecutor is authorized to issue a citation (mine was from a lieutenant). In addition, the infamous “interview” or “be interviewed” doesn’t apply because it does not involve a crime or offense that would justify a “friendly meeting” with MININT. That is, when someone is cited, they must carefully read the citation and if it’s not valid tell the authority that brought it that they have to take it back and correct the errors and return with one that meets the requirements of Article 86, which is very long.

There are always extreme cases like that of Lia, where there is no one who knows the laws and can take into account the invalidity of the same: it came with the name and surname wrong, the address wrong, and even worse, was delivered by a neighbor who lives ten blocks from her house, a day after the scheduled date for the interview.

Here are the requirements an Official Citation MUST MEET:

Law No. 5, Criminal Procedure Act of August 13, 1977, Article 86 as amended by Decree Law No. 151 "Amendment of the Law of Criminal Procedure" of June 10, 1994, says that official citations have a number of conditions, namely:

1 - Name and signature of the (Magistrate, Prosecutor or Judge) or their assistants (military and assistants of MININT, heads of units of the FAR [Army], CDR monitoring heads, Civil Defense unit chiefs and Cuban Naval or Air Force captains, as provided in Article 11 of the Procedure Act) who is issuing it.

2 – Name and surnames of the person to be cited and their home address or place where such action must be carried out.

3 - Purpose of the summons. On this point we have seen subpoenas "for a conversation," “to define your situation,” and similar approaches. Of course in order “to talk” it’s not necessary to cite anyone to appear at the police station. As we understand it the purpose of the subpoena should more accurately reflect the relationship of summons-crime, investigation-crime, etc.

4 - Place, date and time you must honor the citation.

5 – A warning that if you don’t comply with the summons without just cause you will be fined fifty pesos, and if you ignore a second summons you could be charged with a crime.

The Law establishes three possible ways of issuing the citation.

- In person or, failing that, through a member of the family age 16 or over who resides in the same house, through a neighbor, or through the appropriate Committee for the Defense of the Revolution.

- When the previous is not possible, the one who receives the citation will have the obligation to deliver it to the one cited as soon as they return to their house, or the place indicated above for such action, with the proceeding warnings if they fail to deliver it.

- If the summons cannot be delivered through any of the aforementioned means, it can be sent by mail, telegraph, radiotelegraph, telephone or other means of communication, always subject to precise enumeration of points one through five as stated in this Law.

For its part, Article 90 makes clear that: “Citations are invalid if carried out without observing the provisions” in the articles previously referred to in the Law of Criminal Procedures.

However poor Laritza could not cope with all of our questions: Who can arrest you? What happens when they steal your things? When they erase or change the information described above? What time? Is it a crime to publish the summons?

For the first time two things were clear: The Cuban legislation exists and we, the bloggers, are studying it.

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