CUBA: Access to justice for children

This report is part of CRIN's access to justice for children project, looking at the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in national law, the status of children involved in legal proceedings, the legal means to challenge violations of children’s rights and the practical considerations involved in challenging violations.

Cuba has ratified the CRC, but it does not have the force of national law. According to the Constitution, Cuban legislation must be interpreted in a manner that is consistent with the CRC and other international instruments to which Cuba is a party. Various national laws, including the Cuban Family Code and the Cuban Child and Youth Code do not currently conform to the CRC. Children may bring civil cases in courts regarding violations of their rights only through their representatives, but parents have a duty to give their authorisation in those cases where full capacity for taking action is required. Children may testify in civil proceedings if they are at least 12 years of age and the views of children over seven years of age must be heard in family proceedings. Children face many obstacles to access to justice in Cuba: Remedies for human rights violations and relief from government abuses of power are not available, there are no legal provisions which would allow for judicial review proceedings and no constitutional court where individual claimants could bring constitutional complaints. Free or subsidised legal aid is not available and there are no provisions which would allow court fees to be reduced or waived. Cuba does not have a national human rights institution that is capable of receiving complaints about children’s rights and the activities of NGOs are heavily restricted. There is no separation of powers between the different branches of government and enforcement of court orders is often delayed due to general procedural and bureaucratic inefficiencies.

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