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World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems: Cuba

NCJ Number
R Michalowski
Date Published
14 pages
This report provides information and statistics on Cuba's criminal justice system, including its police, courts, and corrections.

Cuba is a democratic-centralist state organized according to a Marxist-Leninist model. The Communist Party of Cuba is the only official political party. The national government is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The Cuban legal system is a composite of the three major stages of Cuban history. Reflecting its past as a Spanish colony, Cuba is a civil law state that emphasizes written codes rather than precedent as the source of law, as well as an inquisitorial system of criminal procedure similar to that of Spain and France. Intermingled with this are elements of Anglo-American law such as habeas corpus, as well as a greater separation of courts and prosecutors than is characteristic of Marxist-Leninist states. Thirty years of development guided by Marxist legal theory and shaped by close ties to the former Soviet Union have added a socialist character to the Cuban legal system. It emphasizes substantive rather than juridical measures of justice, the use of law as a proactive tool for socialist development, limited use of formal legal mechanisms for the resolution of private disputes, the use of informal "social courts" to resolve conflicts, direct citizen involvement in the judicial and crime-control procedures, and a system of state-organized law collectives to provide low-cost legal services nationwide. A section on crime addresses the classification of crime and crime statistics. A section on victims considers the groups most victimized by crime, victims' assistance agencies, the role of victims in prosecution and sentencing, and victims' rights legislation. Other sections focus on the structure and operations of the police, prosecutorial and judicial process, the judicial system, penalties and sentencing, prisons, and extradition and treaties. 34 references