Letter to Harper concerning Cuban Five
(Sent Jan. 28 by Arnold August) Reference: February 19th visit of President Obama to Ottawa, Canada and the issue of human rights violations in the USA towards the Cuban Five and their families.
In a January 27, 2009 interview Dr. Nuris Piñero a lawyer for the Cuban Five who are unjustly imprisoned in US jails for more than ten years, stated that the US authorities continue to impose obstacles for the family visits of these Cubans.
Another of the Cuban Five lawyers, the American Leonard Weinglass has written extensively on this issue. In an interview he pointed out that the issue of the rights of families to visit federal prisoners was addressed recently by the United States Supreme Court. In a remarkable ruling the Supreme Court held quite unequivocally that if the United States Constitution protects any interest, it protects the interest of maintaining the family.
And in that case, Weinglass goes on to state, they held that an agency of the government could not break up a family by preventing the inmate who is in custody from maintaining a relationship with his spouse and his children. I feel that the Constitution of the United States overrides all of the other statutes including the immigration statutes. It is a clear and fundamental violation of the United States Constitution to prevent from maintaining its unity.
Regarding the Regulations of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, they require that families be allowed to visit, for the simple reason, that the prisons have found through experience that when an inmate is visited regularly by his or her family, that inmate becomes a better inmate, less of a problem, less angry, less hostile and better for the institution.
So the US Constitution and prison regulation clearly enshrine family visits. In addition to that, the government of the United States has received a letter of protest from Amnesty International indicating that international law requires that an inmate be allowed to see his family members. He concludes on this issue by stating that this is very clearly a requirement of humane international law. So, on both the international and the constitutional level they should be allowed to visit as well as under the regulations of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
On the eve of President Obama’s visit to Canada, I urge to take up this issue with your American counter-part.
I would like to take the opportunity to remind you that year last year fifty-six deputies of the Canadian parliament took a written public stand for both the liberation of the Cuban Five and family visitation rights.
Arnold August WriterLecturer Montreal cc: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence Cannon Fax: (613) 996-9709 Minister of State Affairs (Americas), Peter Kent Fax: (613) 996-9709 JANUARY 29 reply
Dear Mr. August:
On behalf of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, I would like to thank you for your recent e-mail.
Please be assured that your comments have been noted and that they will receive due consideration from the Minister, who has already received a copy of your correspondence.
L.A. Lavell Executive Correspondence Officer Agent de correspondance de la haute direction