Prisoner of the Month March 2006 Adolfo Fernández Saínz

Adolfo Fernández SaínsIn March 2003, Fidel Castro organised the biggest crackdown on political dissidents for over a decade. Around 80 people were detained, including 34 writers, journalists and librarians. One-day court hearings were held on 3/4 April 2003, in which the majority of the detainees were tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code and Law 88. Article 91 deals with charges of acting against “the independence of the territorial integrity of the state”, the maximum penalty for which is death. Law 88 is a catch-all piece of legislation that has been used in the past as a means for sending writers and journalists to prison. It allows for prison sentences of up to twenty years for those found guilty of committing “acts that, in line with imperialist interests, are aimed at subverting the internal order of the Nation and destroying its political, economic and social system”.

Adolfo Fernández Saínz, independent journalist, translator and advocate for democracy in Cuba, was among those arrested in March 2003. His trial was conducted in violation of internationally accepted judicial standards; it was held behind closed doors and there was insufficient time for the accused to put together a cogent defence. Saínz was convicted under Law 88 and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

Saínz is held in Holguín, 730 kilometres from his home and family in Havana. He is reported to have been on several hunger strikes in protest against harsh prison conditions, violence against fellow prisoners, and limited visiting rights for his family. English PEN is deeply concerned for his health; he is reportedly suffering from emphysema, a cyst in one of his kidneys, a hernia, prostatic hypertrophia, arthritis and high blood pressure.

Please send appeals asking for the immediate release of Adolfo Fernández Saínz to:

His Excellency Fidel Castro Ruz

President of Cuba

c/o Cuban Mission to the United Nations

New York, NY


Fax: +1 212 779 1697

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