A special U.N. investigator who was barred from entering Cuba issued a report Thursday saying there has been a disturbing rise in accounts of political persecution in the communist nation.
Rafael Rivas Posada said Cuban authorities appear to have clamped down on potential opposition since the island's economy was thrown into crisis by a sharp drop in aid from the former Soviet Union.
The Colombian diplomat said one of the most worrisome developments was reports of the formation in 1991 of "rapid response brigades" to deal with public protests.
"The rights of freedom of expression, political participation and free association have declined seriously," he said.
Rivas Posada was appointed by the U.N. Human Rights
Commission, which voted for the first time last year to put Cuba under special scrutiny. His report will be discussed during the 53-nation commission's current six-week session.
The report was based on interviews with Cuban exiles in the United States and private human rights groups like Amnesty International and Americas Watch. Fidel Castro's government refused to let Rivas Posada enter the country for a first-hand investigation.
Rivas Posada details 128 cases of individuals who were reportedly victims of human rights violations. Some died in jail, others were imprisoned without a fair trial and others were punished for speaking freely, according to the report.
He said jail sentences against dissidents seem to be shorter than previously, but many political prisoners still suffer poor living conditions and physical violence in jail. There are also reports of detainees being forced to undergo psychiatric treatment, he said.
© 1996 The Miami Herald.