The National Assembly of People’s Power, Cuba’s Parliament, Sunday approved a new penal code as part of judicial reforms initiated after the approval of a new constitution in April, 2019. President Miguel Diaz-Canel and former President Raul Castro, who governed from 2008 to 2018, attended the session.
The new penal code reinforces sanctions for acts linked to economic and administrative corruption, with scope for new economic actors. It also incorporates new sanctions to address gender-based and family violence.
Controversially, the new law tightly controls unauthorized contacts with foreign organizations and individuals and explicitly ban foreign financing. Under the new law, those who give information to international organizations, associations or other individuals who have not been authorized by the government face severe penalties. The penalties include 10-30 years imprisonment and, in extreme cases, the death penalty.
Human rights groups criticized the new legislation, warning it could have “catastrophic effects.” Ana Cristina Núñez, senior researcher for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said, “In a country where private media is illegal and journalists have no possibility of obtaining local funding, prohibiting foreign funding is a death sentence to independent journalism.”
The new legal code will go into effect within 90 days of being published in the Official Gazette of the Republic.