The Sakharov Prize, granted to personalities and organizations with an outstanding action in the defence of human rights, has become a tool for atlantist propaganda. The granting of the prize, by the European Parliament, ignores who defend human rights from imperialism and globalization, but it honours all those who oppose all regimes that do not pledge subservience to the United States, such as the Cuban government. Based on commonly accepted reports by Amnesty International, Salim Lamrani compares the results of the Sakharov Prize to the reality of human rights in Latin America.
On 26th October 2005, the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize jointly to the Nigerian lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim, the Women in White of Cuba, and the Paris-based organisation Reporters Without Frontiers. The first laureate campaigns against the stoning of women in Nigeria, the second demand the release of their relatives imprisoned for association with a foreign power (the USA), while Reporters Without Frontiers leads a campaign for “press freedom”. Created in 1988, the prize, worth €50 000, consecrates individuals involved in “the defence of human rights”, who receive their trophy with much pomp and circumstance at a ceremony in Strasbourg .
For several years now, the EU has aligned itself with aggressive US policies towards Cuba and adopted economic sanctions at its meeting in 2003, although those have been suspended since 2004 . Europe justifies its position by its desire to see “human rights” respected in Cuba, referring to the matter of “internal dissidence”. However, it does not explain why Cuba is the only nation to be singled out in the American hemisphere, where human rights violations are widespread and dreadful. .
For example, the European Union has never issued sanctions against such countries as El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, Guatemala, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana, Brazil, Argentina, the Bahamas, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, Peru, Nicaragua, or even the USA, whose governments only show relative willingness to respect the rights of their fellow-citizens.
According to Amnesty International’s 2005 report, at least 159 women have been assassinated in dreadful conditions in El Salvador without the perpetrators having been brought to justice. “Impunity continued concerning the cases of human rights violations committed during the 1980 – 1991armed conflict, and in relation to more recent cases, including violence against women”,  according to Amnesty. The international organisation emphasises that in August 2004, 31 prisoners died in the prison “La Esperanza”, without those responsible having been questioned. The EU remained silent about these events.
In the case of Honduras, AI emphasised that “Violent deaths of children and young people continued at alarmingly high levels. Members of human rights groups, indigenous groups and the lesbian, gay men, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) community suffered intimidation, harassment and death threats. Two indigenous activists were political prisoners.”  The European Parliament has not deigned to consider these two prisoners as appropriate candidates for the Sakharov Prize.
Mexico is the subject of an inglorious report: “Human rights violations persisted, particularly at state level where arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment and the misuse of the judicial system were common…. . A number of human rights defenders were threatened and three journalists were murdered. Progress in the prosecution of those responsible for past human rights violations was limited. Political violence surrounded local elections in various states,”  according to AI’s 2005 report. No sanctions have been put in place by Europe in relation to Mexico.
Colombia and its government have serious liabilities in relation to human rights violations. According to Amnesty International, “serious concerns remained about the process [of demobilisation of the Autodéfensas Unidas do Colombia], principally over the issue of impunity, violations of the AUC ceasefire and continuing serious and widespread human rights violations by paramilitaries [….]Despite a fall in certain indicators of political violence such as kidnappings and massacres, reports of extra-judicial executions carried out directly by the armed forces increased in 2004. Cases of “disappearances” and torture remained high. […]During the year, around 1,250 people were kidnapped and 287,000 were forced to flee their homes. Hundreds of civilians were subjected to mass and often irregular detentions by the security forces. The government continued to make statements equating the defence of human rights with the promotion of ‘terrorism’.”  However, the violations committed by the government of Alvaro Uribe, Washington’s loyal ally, interest the European Union very little.
In Ecuador, “police courts continued to claim jurisdiction over cases of police officers accused of violating human rights”, according to the organisation, which also comments that “prison conditions remain harsh.” Furthermore, “indigenous and community leaders, as well as journalists, were attacked, threatened and intimidated”  as a result of having revealed themselves as critical of government policies.
What can be said about Haiti, the country where the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been overturned by western powers including France? Since then, “there have been numerous reports of unlawful killings, torture and ill-treatment by police forces. Dozens remained in detention without charge or trial including members of Jean Bertrand Aristide’s government …. The judicial system continued to fall short of international standards, leaving the population without judicial safeguards and hindering the fight against impunity. There was no significant effort to recapture prison escapees convicted of grave human rights violations.”  The coup against Aristide, for which Europe was partly responsible, has only aggravated an already difficult situation, of which civilians are the first victims.
Jamaica does is not left out of the running regarding disdain for human rights. Police brutality and excessive use of force are common currency. “Reports of police brutality and excessive use of force by police and the armed forces continued. The number of police officers charged with murder increased, but there were no convictions. At least 100 people were killed by the police, many in circumstances suggesting they were extra-judicially executed.” Furthermore, prison conditions are so dreadful that Amnesty International describes them as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”  But the Jamaican population is not a priority for Washington and therefore the European Parliament hardly concerns itself with it.
In Guatemala, “forced violent evictions in rural areas increased sharply. Human rights defenders continued to suffer intimidation and persecution. Violence against women, in particular murders, increased. Impunity remained endemic, including for past human rights violations”  – but Europe focuses only on Cuba.
In Bolivia, cases of “torture and ill-treatment of detainees continued to be reported”,while “prison conditions remained harsh.” Inquiries about the confrontations which took place in 2003 between demonstrators and the security forces, which cost the lives of over 100 people and which left hundreds wounded in February and October 2003, have still not been closed, thus allowing impunity to prosper for the government forces. Moreover, four members of the army accused of murdering two civilians in February 2003 were acquitted a year later, in February 2004. 
Chile does not differ from the other Latin-American countries and “progress in ending impunity for past human rights violations continued to be slow”. The 28 000 victims of torture under the military regime have still not received compensation. Furthermore, “indigenous Mapuche activists were subjected to human rights violations,” according to Amnesty. 
In Paraguay, the members of peasant organisations and indigenous groups have been persecuted as a result of their social and land claims. New recruits to the army have also been victims of many instances of abuse according to Amnesty’s international researchers. More than 100 new recruits have been found dead since 1989 in suspicious circumstances. 
The conditions of detention in prisons in Uruguay violate international norms. The position of women in the country remains disastrous: every nine days, a woman or girl dies as a result of violence against her. Women’s organisations are concerned that the government does not foresee any legislation against domestic violence. 
In Guyana, the death penalty is frequently carried out against the poorest members of society. A “’death squad’ had abducted, tortured and killed dozens of people,” according to Amnesty International. Furthermore, the police is also implicated in many murders and extra-judicial killings. In the over-crowded prisons, cases of torture and ill-treatment have been reported. Women are regularly victims of violence and suffer human trafficking which forces them into prostitution, which is becoming pandemic in the country. 
Brazil continues to be one of the most violent countries of the American continent where human rights are constantly ridiculed. “Hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilians were killed by police in alleged gun battles.” In the state of Sao Paolo, the police is responsible for 663 assassinations while in the state of Rio de Janeiro it is involved in 983 murders. “The vast majority of the victims were young, poor, black or mixed-race men. While investigations were opened into some of these cases, few progressed very far.” Several reports have shown repeated participation of the police in the “death squads”. The use of torture is widespread and systematic. Peasant and indigenous activists have also been assassinated. According to Amnesty, “the criminals have enjoyed great impunity”. 
If violence is less widespread in Argentina than in Brazil, it remains nevertheless present and worrying. Seventeen detainees were found dead in Mendoza prison in extremely dubious circumstances. The sanitary conditions and the major over-crowding in the prisons have lead to a deterioration in the health of many prisoners. In November 2004 the Inter-American Human Rights Court called on the Argentine government to protect the life and physical well-being of all prisoners. In the same month, the UN Committee Against Torture deplored the large number of cases of torture and ill-treatment compared with the low number of convictions of those responsible. 
In the Bahamas, the tourist archipelago of the Caribbean, the poor treatment meted out to prisoners Sidney McKenzie and Kazimierz Kwasiborski led to their deaths. Asylum-seekers have also been forcibly expelled without respecting the due judicial process. Furthermore, at least “five children have been detained in contravention of international norms,” according to the 2005 report, while there have been three victims of police violence. 
Canada is a developed country where human rights should be respected. However, this is far from being the case as the rights of indigenous women are regularly violated. Socially and economically marginalized in Canada for decades, indigenous women continue to be victims of violence out of all proportion to the national average. The authorities have still not put in place “action plans destined to ensure that indigenous women and girls are given the necessary protection.” Similarly, police violence does not limit itself to under-developed countries but affects western nations such as Canada – at least six people have been killed by police bullets. 
In the Dominican Republic, the police have opened fire on demonstrators, killing seven of them. The lack of medical attention in the prisons can be added to the violence meted out by the prison authorities. “Benito Simon Gabriel, aged 19, was reported to have been kept up against a wall for more than seven hours in glaring sunlight at Monte Plata prison”, according to Amnesty. Another incredible fact is that some prisoners who have completed their sentences have remained in prison for lack of financial means to pay the administrative charges for their release. As in numerous other Latin-American countries, violence against women has had 89 victims. 
In Trinidad & Tobago, a tiny archipelago off the Venezuelan coast, the abuses committed by the police have led to 24 deaths. The conditions of detention are like torture, according to Amnesty International, as the 9 metre square cells contain up to 22 detainees. 
Peru can be added to the long list of countries where the poorest and most vulnerable people have very little value. More than 50% of Peruvians live in poverty and 25% in utter poverty, according to the United Nations. Faced with social problems, the government proclaimed a state of emergency in several regions, involving the suspension of constitutional protection for the citizens. More than 500 women were raped by members of the army, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Several journalists were killed in the course of their work. Numerous prisoners of conscience unjustly accused of terrorism are still in prison. The UN’s special rapporteur for the right to health has expressed his anxiety about a commercial agreement with the USA which deprives millions of Peruvians access to essential medication. He has also emphasised that many people have died of curable diseases. 
Nicaragua is an unfortunate illustration of violence towards women. According to the police, more than 77 women were murdered in 2003. The Minister for Health has stated that 95% of rapes take place in the home. Added to this is the desperate poverty which affects a huge part of the population. 
In Venezuela, there have been tensions since the failed violent coup against President Hugo Chavez in April 2002. The opposition, which has continually suffered electoral defeats since its failed violent coup, has chosen the route of confrontation and illegality to make its voice heard – a voice which is in the minority amongst the population. In November 2004 the attorney who was leading the enquiry into those responsible for the attempted coup, and its supporters, was killed by a bomb explosion in Caracas. According to Amnesty International, “political polarization continued to destabilize Venezuela. There were violent confrontations between supporters of the opposition and the security forces throughout the country.” 
Amnesty International has also drawn up a report on Cuba. Unlike in the other Latin-American countries, the report does not mention a single case of police violence against the population. Not a single demonstration has been suppressed by force. At the same time, there is no mention of any violence against w omen. According to the organisation, “at least 70 prisoners of conscience, most of them held since the 2003 crackdown on the dissident movement. However, 18 prisoners of conscience were released and many were moved to prisons nearer their homes.”
Not a single case of torture against prisoners is noted by Amnesty International. It has to be emphasised that of all the reports by Amnesty about the countries of Latin America, the report on Cuba is by far the least condemnatory . The Cuban government does not deny the imprisonment of the individuals mentioned by Amnesty. The only difference is in the reasons leading to the imprisonment of those whom the international press describes as “dissidents”. According to the media, their opposition to the authorities in Havana has led to their prison sentence. This is categorically denied by the Cuban government, according to which the individuals in question have been convicted purely for having accepted money from a foreign power, namely the USA. Agents who infiltrated the “dissident” networks have given irrefutable evidence in the course of various trials.  Another source supporting this theory is indisputable: in its own official documents, Washington admits to having a budget of $50 million for the purpose of creating an internal opposition in Cuba.  There can therefore be no doubt of this.
Amnesty International’s 2005 report on the USA is damning in its gravity: “Hundreds of detainees continued to be held without charge or trial at the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Thousands of people were detained during US military and security operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and routinely denied access to their families and lawyers.
Military investigations were initiated or conducted into allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by US personnel in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and into reports of deaths in custody and ill-treatment by US forces elsewhere in Iraq, and in Afghanistan and Guantánamo. Evidence came to light that the US administration had sanctioned interrogation techniques that violated the UN Convention against Torture. […] In the USA, more than 40 people died after being struck by police tasers […] The death penalty continued to be imposed and carried out. […]Conscientious objectors Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía Castillo and Sergeant Abdullah William Webster were imprisoned; they were prisoners of conscience. […]In 2004, 59 people were executed, bringing to 944 the total number of prisoners put to death since the US Supreme Court lifted a moratorium on executions in 1976. Texas accounted for 23 of the year’s executions, and 336 of all the executions in the USA since 1976. […]Eight people prosecuted in the Texas jurisdiction of Harris County were executed during the year, despite concern around the reliability of forensic evidence processed through the Houston Police Department (HPD) crime laboratory where serious problems had been uncovered in 2003. In October, a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said that there should be ’a moratorium on all executions in cases where convictions were based on evidence from the HPD crime lab until the reliability of the evidence has been verified’. His was the only dissenting voice when the Court denied death row inmate Dominique Green’s request for a stay of execution on the basis of concern around the accuracy of the HPD’s ballistics work in his case, and the discovery of 280 boxes of mislabelled evidence that could affect thousands of criminal cases. Dominique Green was executed on 26 October.
The USA continued to contravene international law by using the death penalty against child offenders – people who were under 18 at the time of the crime. Around 70 child offenders remained on death row during the year, more than a third of them in Texas. […]
On 31 March, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down its judgement following a lawsuit brought by Mexico on behalf of its nationals arrested, denied their consular rights, and sentenced to death in the USA. The ICJ found that the USA had violated its international obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and that it must provide effective judicial review and reconsideration of the impact of the violations on the cases of the foreign nationals involved. The ICJ noted with “great concern” that an execution date had been set for Osvaldo Torres Aguilera, one of the Mexican nationals named in the lawsuit. Osvaldo Torres’ execution was subsequently commuted by the governor of Oklahoma following an appeal for clemency from the President of Mexico and a recommendation for commutation from the state clemency board. […]
Prisoners with histories of serious mental illness continued to be sentenced to death and executed. Charles Singleton was executed in Arkansas on 6 January. At times on death row, his mental illness had been so acute that he had been forcibly medicated. Kelsey Patterson, diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, was executed in Texas on 18 May. The Texas governor rejected a recommendation for clemency from the state Board of Pardons and Paroles in his case. On 5 August James Hubbard was executed in Alabama. He was 74 years old – the oldest person to be put to death in the USA since 1977 – and had been on death row for more than a quarter of a century. James Hubbard was reported to suffer from dementia which sometimes led him to forget who he was and why he was on death row.” 
This terrifying report on “the greatest democracy in the world” has not led the EU to make a statement on the human rights situation in the USA, and shows once again the illegitimate and discriminatory nature of the sanctions imposed by Europe on Cuba for reasons which are deeply political and ideological.
The European Parliament has justified its nomination of the Women in White for their struggle to free the “dissidents”: “They call themselves the “Ladies in White” (“Damas de blanco”) and were formed in early 2004. By wearing white to symbolise innocence and purity they echo Argentine women in the 1970s who used a similar tactic to demand information about their missing children during the military dictatorship.” 
To clothe themselves with a little legitimacy and to hide the reasons which have led to their relatives being imprisoned, the Women in White use the methods of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and compare their campaign with that campaign. The international press has also been eager to provide hasty comparisons, obviously without making an effort to find out the opinion of the Argentine mothers who are the main group involved.
When asked about this matter, Hebe de Bonafini, president of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, universally recognised and respected for her indefatigable fight against injustice, denounced the false parallel drawn by the Women in White and gave a crushing response about the journalists in question:
First of all, let me say that the Plaza de Mayo is in Argentina and nowhere else. Our white scarves represent life, whereas the women you have told me about represent death. That is the most important and substantial difference which journalists need to no about. We will not accept being compared with them nor that they use our symbols to trample on us. We are in total disagreement with their opinions.
These women defend US terrorism. They defend the main terrorist country in the world, the one which has the most blood on its hands, the one which drops the most bombs, which invades the most countries, which imposes the most severe economic sanctions against others. We are talking about the country which is responsible for the crimes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
These women do not realise that the struggle of the Women of the Plaza de Mayo symbolises our love for our children who have vanished, assassinated by tyrants imposed on us by the USA. Our struggle represents the revolution which our sons and daughters would have wanted to carry out. Their struggle is different, because they are defending the subversive policies of the USA which are none other than oppression, repression, and death. 
This is not the first time the European Parliament has shown such poor judgement. In fact in 2002, it awarded the Sakaharov Prize to Oswaldo Payá, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and prime mover of the Valera Project in Cuba – behind which was, in reality, the White House – which was linked to the extreme Cuban right-wing group in Florida.  Mr Payá had, several months previously in April 2002, openly supported the fascistic coup against Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.  The EU’s obsessions with Cuba had led it to reward a partisan of a violent coup orchestrated by Washington against Venezualan democracy by thanking him for his “struggle for human rights”.
The other Sakharov prize-winner in 2005 was the very controversial French organisation, Reporters Without Borders.  Oddly enough, the European Parliament chose a candidate which has become known for its virulent attacks against the Cuban government and its media campaigns attempting to reduce the number of tourists visiting Cuba.  Its links with the extreme Cuban right-wing groups in Florida as well as the financial support granted to it by Washington explain to a large extent the organisation’s attitude under the direction of Robert Ménard. 
Europe is not ready to disassociate itself from the interventionist approach in Cuban internal affairs imposed by the Bush administration. Along with Germany, which has once again shown evidence of its interference by inviting “dissident” representatives to its embassy in Cuba, the Czech Republic is the European country most virulent towards the authorities in Havana.  The Czech Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ciryl Svoboda, is a fierce supporter of taking a hard line with the revolutionary government. He has called on the European Union to give financial support to “Cuban civil society” with the aim of overthrowing those currently in power. 
For several years, the Czech republic has led a European campaign for “human rights” in Cuba. It regularly denounces what it calls “unacceptable violations” of individual freedom on the island. However, it forgets to make any evaluation of the human rights situation on its own soil. According to Amnesty International, two citizens of the UK and New Zealand were beaten up by the police and had to be hospitalised in a very serious condition. In August 2004, a man was died in Olomouc as a result of injuries inflicted by a police officer. In May 2004, the UN Committee Against Torture expressed its disquiet in a report on police violence. It criticised the “continual occurrence of acts of violence against Roma” as well as the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for these crimes. The Committee also denounced the judicial system which did not pronounce sentences against those guilty. 
In June 2004 the European Committee Against Racism and Intolerance deplored the fact that recommendations made to the Czech authorities to counter discrimination and inequality had not been applied. It also denounced the fact that Roma children are systematically sent to schools for ｫthe mentally retarded” and that a disproportionate number of them were torn away from their families and sent to state institutions. At the same time, the Committee condemned the forced sterilisation of several Roma women. 
On the other hand, those who attack the Roma are only very rarely convicted under Czech justice. For example in January 2004, Petr Blaize Jas and Marin Stiskala were given only a three years suspended sentence for having attacked a Roma couple. The man was tortured with a broken bottle while the woman, who was pregnant, lost the sight of one eye after having been violently beaten on the head. 
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee have denounced the barbaric use of caged beds for patients and children suffering from mental illnesses. The Minister for Health has claimed that he has ordered this to be banned in all health institutions. However, the Czech President Václav Klaus, unexpectedly intervened personally and criticised his minister, declaring that the banning of caged beds was “a thoughtless and superfluous decision”. He then decided to transfer the matter to the Ministry for Work and Social Affairs, which reversed the ban. The disastrous human rights situation in the Czech Republic reveals the extent to which the scheming of the Prague government against Cuba reek of hypocrisy and submission to Washington’s desired. 
In France, one political personality from the left is well-known for his position against the Cuban government. Laurent Fabius, the number two in the Socialist Party, has appealed to the European Union and the French government to give their support to “the freedom fighters”, as they are called by the USA. The former Prime Minister in Mitterrand’s government – which in 1986 gave a warm welcome and offered political asylum to the bloodthirsty dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier who terrorised Haiti from 1971 to 1986 – now campaigns for the French authorities to align themselves with George Bush’s policies. He would like to give “his complete support to the Women in White” because “their struggle is an example to all” and “every democracy ought to support them.” 
Washington says exactly the same. According to Caleb McCarry, a civil servant in the State Department who was named on 28th July 2005 as the coordinator for Cuban transition, the aim of the Bush administration is “to support an authentic transition towards political freedom for the Cuban people” by giving financial support to the internal opposition which is itself totally cut off from the population. The attempts at subversion - which henceforth will be carried out quite openly - will not shock the European Union. But as soon as the strictures of Cuban law is used against the malefactors – who, by accepting the generous financial support offered by the USA, transfer themselves from opposition status to that of an agent financed by a foreign power – the EU will become agitated, claiming not to know the underlying history.