Category Archives: Healthcare

Torture: It Can Happen Anywhere

February 13, 2014 – In this new video from the Open Society Foundations, the Special Rapporteur explains that torture can happen anywhere, and is not only limited to the use of harsh interrogation techniques in custodial settings. The Special Rapporteur’s thematic report on torture in healthcare settings illustrates just one of the non-traditional contexts in which torture and ill-treatment can occur. The Special Rapporteur also observes that the use of torture in the context of counter-terrorism efforts only breeds more torture and more terrorism, is an ineffective way of obtaining information and evidence, and dangerously generates distrust in the police and institutions. The video is available on the Open Society Foundations website.

Endocrinologists Respond to UN Statement on Genital-Normalizing Surgery

The group Advocates for Informed Choice (AIC) has published a letter from an international group of pediatric endocrine societies that responds to the Special Rapporteur’s statement calling for an end to genital-normalizing surgeries without the consent of the affected person. The Special rapporteur discussed this issue in his 2013 thematic report on torture and abusive practices in healthcare settings. According to AIC, “the letter thanks the United Nations for bringing attention to this issue, while offering no rationale for continuing the practice that the Special Rapporteur and human rights bodies in several regions have condemned.”

Argentina Creates the Office of Institutional Violence Citing SRT’s Report on Abuse in Healthcare Settings

June 2013 – The Argentinian “Procuraduria General de la Nacion” (Office of the Attorney General) adopted a resolution creating the Office of Institutional Violence as a result of the high rates of torture—which includes deaths in penitentiary centers—and the lack of investigation and accountability. The resolution cited the Special Rapporteur on Torture’s thematic report on abuse in healthcare settings, highlighting concerns regarding the use of electroshocks and forced isolations in penitentiary centers and concluding that the use of either practice amounts to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Read the resolution in Spanish here.

El Salvador: UN Experts Urge Government to Reconsider Current Abortion Legislation

June 2013 – The Special Rapporteur urged El Salvador’s Government to ensure the protection and full enjoyment of the rights to life and the highest attainable standard of health in accordance with international human rights law, noting that an absolute ban on abortion resulting in serious risk to the life and health of the woman constitutes a violation of the State’s obligation to prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Read the article here

OAS General Assembly Adopts Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity and Expression

June 2013 – During its Fourth Plenary Session, the OAS General Assembly adopted Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity, which explicitly recognized the SRT’s recent thematic report on abusive practices in healthcare settings. The Resolution cited the following findings of the report: “[c]hildren who are born with atypical sex characteristics are often subject to irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery, performed without their informed consent, or that of their parents, ‘in an attempt to fix their sex,’ leaving them with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering.” Read the resolution here.

El Pais (SP)- El Salvador Woman Risks Death Due to Prohibition of Medically Necessary Abortions

May 2013 – El Pais discusses the Special Rapporteur’s appeal to El Salvador’s government to provide a life-saving abortion to a 22 year-old woman, highlighting his findings that the denial of such necessary medical care may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Read the article in Spanish here.

UN Independent Experts Urge El Salvador Government to Treat Woman at Risk of Death

April 2013 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez and other independent UN experts have called on the government of El Salvador to urgently provide life-saving medical treatment to a 22-year-old woman who faces a high risk of death due to pregnancy complications.Read the press release here.

Amnesty International Secretariat’s Letter to the Norwegian Government Regarding Health of Trans Individuals

March 2013 – In an open letter to the Norwegian Government, Amnesty International expressed concerns regarding trans individuals’ enjoyment of their human rights, including the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The letter cited the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture’s call to States “to outlaw forced or coerced sterilization in all circumstances and provide special protection to individuals belonging to marginalized groups.”

The FIX – Asian Drug Detention Centers Accused of Torture

March 2013 – The Fix discusses the Special Rapporteur’s recent call on states to close drug-detention centers in which drug users are held without due process, subjected to physical and sexual abuse, and denied effective treatment. The situation such centers throughout Vietnam, Cambodia, China, and Laos is highlighted in particular.

AlterNet – Why is the US Funding International Drug Rehabs Known for Torture and Abuse?

March 14, 2013 – An article discusses the Special Rapporteur’s recent warning that many states, including the US, continue to fund drug “treatment” and “rehabilitation” centers throughout the world, and particularly in Asia, which are infamous for indefinitely detaining and abusing drug users.