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Human rights groups criticize Cuba’s new criminal code

KEYT

By MEGAN JANETSKY
Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba enacted a new penal code this week that activists and human rights organizations worry could further limit free expression and snuff out protests at a time of deepening discontent on the island. Among some of the changes are increases in the minimum penalties and prison sentences on things like “public disorder,” “resistance” and “insulting national symbols.” The Cuban government has described the new code as “modern” and “inclusive,” pointing to stiffening penalties on gender-based violence and racial discrimination. But human rights watchdog groups, many of which are not permitted on the island, are raising alarms about the new code. They say the code is “plagued with overly broad” language that could be used by Cuban authorities to more easily punish dissent.

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