Category Archives: Videos

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.

Democracy Now Roundtable: Time for Compassion? Aging Prisoners Suffer from Illness, Decades in Solitary Confinement

December 23, 2013 – The Special Rapporteur joined other distinguished panelists for a roundtable discussion organized by Democracy Now.  The panelists addressed the growing numbers of aging political prisoners in the US who were convicted in the 1960s and 1970s and are increasingly seeking compassionate release, clemency, or pardon.  In this context, the Special Rapporteur addressed the growing use of solitary confinement in the US, as well as his recent efforts to visit prisons in the states of California, New York, and Pennsylvania.  For a vide of the roundtable, please visit the Democracy New website.

Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez Featured in New Film about Children in Solitary Confinement

September 2013 – U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez reiterates his position that the solitary confinement of juveniles should be prohibited under all circumstances in Todd Krainin’s new film, “For Their Own Protection”: Children in Long-Term Solitary Confinement.  According to the Special Rapporteur, literature shows that the effects of solitary confinement impact a juvenile’s brain and mind in a very different manner than an adult’s and that such confinement can impede a juvenile’s ability to function  successfully in the future.

Special Rapporteur on Torture Discusses State of Emergency in Egypt (Spanish)

August 2013 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez expressed his concern about the state of emergency declared in Egypt during a Spanish-language television program. He concluded that its imposition has aggravated the crisis, and expressed serious concern about the excessive use of force resulting in deaths and reported cases of torture and ill-treatment of protesters. Link to televised interview.

Special Rapporteur on Torture Discusses U.S. Government’s Denial of Full Access to Guantanamo Bay

July 2013 – United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez discussed the U.S. Government’s reluctance to grant him full access to detainees held in Guantanamo Bay prison. The Special Rapporteur explained that he was unable to accept the Pentagon’s invitation to visit under restricted conditions, and in particular without the ability to conduct individual interviews with inmates. He further stressed that the standards and rules applicable to his visits have been mandated and approved by the UN Human Rights Council. Link to interview.

Healing a Culture of Torture Speech Addresses State Obligations and Survivor Participation

June 2013 – The National Religious Campaign Against Torture, among other organizations, hosted an event on “Healing a Culture of Torture,” featuring UN Special Rapporteur on Torture as the keynote speaker. In his speech, the SRT reaffirmed the importance of a survivor-centered approach to his mandate, stressing that a survivor must participate and be consulted during the design and implementation of all reparations. Therefore, States have to work “with” survivors, not “on” survivors. The SRT expressed concerns regarding States ignoring obligations to provide redress, including rehabilitation services that are basically non-existent in most countries. Thematic issues of the death penalty, solitary confinement, and abuses in healthcare settings were all discussed in the context of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Watch the speech here.

Video and photo credit: The National Religious Campaign Against Torture 

First Annual Patrick Rice Human Rights Award Presented to Méndez and Diez-Bacalso

June 2013 – Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition (TASSC) awarded the First Annual Patrick Rice Human Rights Award to Juan E. Méndez and Aileen Diez-Bacalso for their ardent defense of human rights around the world. Patrick Rice was a former Irish priest, leading human rights activist, and disappeared detainee who was tortured by the junta in Argentina during the Dirty War. As a result of the oppression during the dictatorship, he vigorously represented families of the disappeared in Latin America and worked with Argentine human rights NGOs. His wife, Fatima Cabrera, presented the award, stating that “defending human rights is to open up to the possibility of sharing with other human beings the generosity that lies within each of us.” Juan Méndez expressed his deep gratitude for the award, sharing the life changing impact of his connection with Patrick Rice. Watch the video here.

Video and photo credit: The National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

Force Feeding of Guantanamo Detainees is Contrary to International Law

May 2013 – The Special Rapporteur discusses the forced feeding of Guantanamo Bay detainees on hunger strike in an interview with Al Jazeera. According to the Special Rapporteur, the non-consensual practice amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and is contrary to international law. Read the article here.

Hearing on Solitary Confinement Before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez briefed the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the topic of solitary confinement and human rights in the Americans on 12 March 2013. A video of the proceedings is available here.

Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez Speaks Before the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council

The Special Rapporteur presented reports on his country visits to Tajikistan, Morocco, and Uruguay, as well as a thematic report on abusive practices in healthcare settings.