The opposition Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation reported Thursday that at least 423 arbitrary arrests were made for political reasons in May of this year.

In a communique released in Havana, the group led by activist Elizardo Sánchez said that the growing trend to make arbitrary political arrests continues to be "disturbing."

In its customary monthly report, the commission said that in May, for the first time in 50 years, the Cuban government offered figures on the island's prison population, putting the total at 57,337.

The rights commission, however, estimates the number of inmates at between 65,000 and 70,000.

"The Cuban government has among the highest number of prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants in the world," the commission said asking that Cuban jails be opened to inspection by international organizations like the Red Cross.

The Communist Party daily "Granma" reported in May that Cuba has 57,337 prisoners, of whom more than 31,000 are locked up and almost 26,000 are in "open facilities."

In the last six months, according to these official figures, 10,129 inmates have been set free for different reasons, including the more than 2,900 who where pardoned last December by the Raúl Castro government. EFE

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