[JURIST] The resignation [text] of Cuban President Fidel Castro [BBC profile] could prompt lawsuits against him in Spanish courts for crimes against humanity, Spanish human rights lawyers indicated on Tuesday. In December, the Spanish Audiencia Nacional dismissed a claim against Castro [JURIST report] and Cuban Minister of Tourism Osmani Cienfuegos for genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and terrorism. It was the third time that the court rejected such a suit against Castro, citing his sovereign immunity as head of state. Despite the fact that Castro had turned his office to his brother, Raul Castro, the court found that he continued to enjoy sovereign immunity. Lawyers from the Spanish Asosiacion Pro Derechos Humanos have indicated that they may take advantage of Castro's resignation to push forward with their claims against him. Terra Espana has more.
Castro's resignation could affect Cuba's status within the international community. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza [official website] expressed hope [press release] Tuesday that a change in Cuban leadership would enable the country to regain full membership status in the organization. Cuba has been suspended from participating in the Organization for American States since 1962. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] observed, however, that Castro's resignation is unlikely to provoke an improvement [press release] in the country's human rights situation in the near future. United States Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte [official website] announced Tuesday that the United States has no immediate plans to lift the economic sanctions [Guardian report] that have governed its policy toward Cuba for nearly fifty years.