Cuba has agreed to a visit by a United Nations human rights investigator for the first time in decade, inviting an expert on human trafficking this month, a U.N. statement said on Thursday.
Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, U.N. special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, will visit the Caribbean island nation from April 10-14, making stops in Havana, Matanzas and Artemisa.
“Her visit will be the first to the country in 10 years by an independent expert of the U.N. Human Rights Council,” the statement said.
Authorities in communist-run Cuba have long resisted what they regard as external interference in their human rights record.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama initiated secret negotiations leading to normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations in 2015 after decades of enmity.
U.S. organizations that worked closely on the effort have called on the Trump administration not to act rashly toward Cuba, saying that the policy has improved human rights and internet access there.
Giammarinaro, an Italian judge and trafficking expert serving in the independent post since June 2017, said she would meet Cuban authorities and activists to discuss challenges in addressing trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation.
“Particular attention will be paid to measures in place and those planned to prevent trafficking, to protect victims and provide them with access to effective remedies,” she said.
The last U.N. human rights expert to visit Cuba was the then U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, Swiss expert Jean Ziegler, in November 2007.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Tom Heneghan)