Category Archives: News

International Commission of Jurists Releases New Report on Transitional Injustices

The International Commission of Jurists released a new report entitled Transnational Injustices, which describes repeated, ongoing human rights violations in renditions, expulsions, and extradition processes in the Russian Federation, Central Asia, and the US. The report offers concrete, practical recommendations for improving the situation and providing justice and remedies for victims of these practices.

To read the full report, click here.

To read the executive summary, click here. 

The Anti-Torture Initiative and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights Call for the Immediate Release of Human Rights Defender Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla and University Lecturer Dr. Fontem Aforteka’a Neba

March 27, 2017 – Today, the Anti-Torture Initiative and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights called for the immediate release of lawyer and human rights defender Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla and of university lecturer Dr. Fontem Aforteka’a Neba from military detention in #Cameroon.
Mr. Nkongho and Dr. Fontem were arrested for organizing peaceful protests calling for respect for the rights of the Anglophone minority. Mr. Nkongho is charged with 8 counts, including treason, terrorism, incitement of civil unrest, and breach of the constitution and set to be tried by a military tribunal. If convicted of these charges he could face the death penalty. Mr. Nkongho’s trial adjourned on March 23 until April 27, at which point his application for bail will be heard.

“The arbitrary detention of Mr. Nkongho and Dr. Fontem on account of their peaceful protests and advocacy for the human rights of English-speaking Cameroonians is in blatant violation of international human rights law,” said the Anti-Torture Initiative’s Academic Director Prof. Juan E. Méndez, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. He went on to express “grave concern over allegations of excessive use of force and the use of torture against protesters and detainees, as well as over reported cases of arbitrary executions. I call on the Government to immediately release Mr. Nkongho and Dr. Fontem, to conduct an inquiry into the allegations of grave human rights abuses committed since October 2016, and to provide victims with adequate redress and rehabilitation,” Prof. Mendez concluded.

The press release can be found here

New Publication – Protecting Children against Torture in Detention: Global Solutions for A Global Problem

March 24, 2017 –  We are delighted to announce the publication of our NEW edited volume “Protecting Children against Torture in Detention: Global Solutions for A Global Problem!”

This edited volume brings together contributions by more than 30 international children’s rights experts in response to former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Ernesto Mendez’s groundbreaking thematic report on torture of children deprived of liberty. Each article in the volume provides valuable insights into the intersection between children’s rights and the international human rights law prohibition of torture. The publication addresses situations children face in a variety of contexts such as the criminal justice system, armed conflict situation, institutionalization, and detention in the context of migration. The diverse perspectives offered by our authors, paired with the former Special Rapporteur’s report, provide innovative solutions to an all-too-common reality faced by children deprived of liberty around the world, and illustrate a profound commitment to the ongoing challenge of protecting the fundamental human rights of children everywhere.

A heartfelt thanks to all of the contributing authors, including those from Human Rights Watch; Disability Rights International, Child Rights International Network; The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative; International Detention Coalition; Center for Children’s Law and Policy; Defence for Children International; End Violence Against Children; Special Representative to the Secretary General on Violence against Children-Marta Santos Pais; UNICEF; Save the Children Perú; Council of Europe, INCLUSION INTERNATIONAL; ACLU of Southern California; Advanced Studies in International Children’s Rights – Leiden University; University College Cork; Penal Reform International; the International Juvenile Justice Observatory; and contributing Members of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families.

Together we can #STOPChildTorture and achieve a #TortureFreeWorld!

Follow us on Facebook on Twitter @antitorture_WCL for information about our upcoming book launch event in New York City!

You can read the publication in its entirety here.

Former Special Rapporteur on Torture Interviewed by CNN Español to discuss human rights challenges in Mexico and throughout Latin American

March 21, 2017 – En una entrevista con Carmen Aristegui – CNN en Español, el ex Relator Especial sobre la Tortura, Juan Ernesto Mendez discutió un informe de seguimiento sobre México y otras cuestiones apremiantes de derechos humanos a las que se enfrentan el Estado, y América Latina de manera más amplia. En México, afirmó que “el gobierno mexicano quería que dijera que la tortura era un problema recurrente, pero eso no capturaba lo que yo vi . . . es una práctica generalizada”.

The complete interview in Spanish can be found here. 

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime hosted an Expert Group Meeting in Vienna

This week, the Anti-Torture Initiative participated in an Expert Group Meeting hosted by the UNODC – United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, to review the development of guidance material on the Nelson Mandela Rules (United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Over the course of two days, experts from Governments, international and regional organizations, civil society, and academia worked on the development of a checklist for prison administrators for assessing compliance with the newly revised Nelson Mandela Rules.
You can learn more about the Nelson Mandela Rules here:

Experts Meet in Geneva to Discuss a Protocol for Humane Interrogations

During the week of January 27th, experts met in Geneva to move forward with the idea of an universal protocol for investigative interviewing of detainees, as proposed by former Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez.

Juan Mendez ended his mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in 2016 with a ground-breaking proposal for a universal protocol on humane investigative interviewing. The protocol would set out minimum standards for non-coercive methods and safeguards to protecting detainees from torture and ill-treatment. Because, as Mendez writes in his report to the United Nations General Assembly, history and science offer no evidence on the strategic effectiveness of harsh questioning techniques.

The protocol sets out to change attitudes and practices in police stations and interrogation rooms, to put a stop to forced “confessions”. The proposal has received strong support from the human rights community, including Nils Melzer, current UN Special Rapporteur on Torture:

“There is growing popular belief that torture is an effective way of discovering the truth. This belief is perpetuated by misleading depictions in popular media and worse, in current political narratives. It is therefore important for me to take the work of my predecessor a step further.”

For more on the meeting, please visit:


Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Issue Statement on the New U.S. Administration Torture Policies

On November 17, 2016, the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Washington College of Law issued strong statement on the Trump administration and reiterated its commitment to the protection of civil liberties, justice and human rights for all people.

The Center vowed to hone in on areas where progress is not only possible, but necessary.  The Center plan to continue its vital work of educating and working with the next generation of human rights and civil rights lawyers to ensure that they are equipped to tackle the challenges to come.  For the Center’s full statement, please visit its Facebook page at:

Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer Joins Experts in Statement on U.S. Travel Ban

January 27, 2017 – A group of United Nations human rights experts today said that the Executive Order signed by US President Donald Trump on 27 January 2017 breaches the country’s international human rights obligations, which protect the principles of non-refoulement and non-discrimination based on race, nationality or religion.

The Presidential Executive Order bars all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries -Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen- from entering the US for the next 90 days.

“Such an order is clearly discriminatory based on one’s nationality and leads to increased stigmatization of Muslim communities ,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on migrants, François Crépeau; on racism, Mutuma Ruteere; on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson; on torture, Nils Melzer; and on freedom of religion, Ahmed Shaheed.

For the full press release, please see:

Looking Back on Six Years of Leadership—Juan E. Mendez in Conversation with Solitary Watch

Juan E. Mendez stepped down from his position as Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on October 31, 2016, ending six years of global leadership and unprecedented expertise. During his tenure, Professor Mendez advanced several area of international, as well as personal concern, including solitary confinement, the intersection of torture and gender rights and the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay.

As a new generation of activists and lawyers work on the elimination of torture, we are indebted to Professor Mendez for his unparalleled vision and unflagging service.

For the full press release from Solitary Watch, please click:

Sir Nigel Rodley, In Memoriam

January 25, 2017 Today, we join friends and colleagues around the world in mourning the devastating loss of Sir Nigel Rodley and honouring his tremendous legacy in the field of international human rights and in the global fight against torture.
‘So many of us grieve the loss of a friend, a mentor, a rigorous scholar and a world-renowned champion of human rights,’ Professor Juan Ernesto Mendez stated today, adding that ‘we will be better defenders of human rights if we pledge each day to try to be a little more like Sir Nigel.’
Ms. Stephanie Selg, the OSCE/ODIHR Adviser on Torture Prevention, noted Sir Nigel’s unparalleled influence on young human rights defenders as one of the most important aspects of his legacy. ‘As for thousands of other young human rights defenders, Sir Nigel’s brilliance, analytical skills, dedication, and commitment have served as a guiding example. Most importantly, Sir Nigel taught me how the vision of equality of all human beings translates into kindness, compassion, and genuine modesty,’ she said.
‘Many of us also fondly remember Sir Nigel for his warmth, generosity, and humour. May his tremendous legacy continue to teach, inspire, and motivate generations of advocates and scholars to come,’ said Anti-Torture Initiative Assistant Director Andra Nicolescu.

As we offer our deepest condolences to Sir Nigel’s family, friends, and colleagues, we are inspired to continue the fight for justice and human dignity for all in honour of his memory and his life’s work.