Category Archives: News

“Grave retroceso en el derecho a la salud de las dominicanas” exhorta el Relator Especial sobre la Tortura

27 de julio de 2016- El Relator Especial sobre la Tortura, Juan E. Mendez, junto con otros expertos en derechos humanos de las Naciones Unidas exhortaron al Presidente de República Dominicana y a los legisladores a que protejan el derecho a la salud sexual y reproductiva de las mujeres y las niñas en el país. Condenan el grave retroceso en el derecho a la salud de las mujeres y niñas dominicanas, especialmente en cuanto al acceso a servicios de salud seguros.

Los Expertos expresaron su preocupación al respecto de que según la enmienda propuesta, la interrupción del embarazo queda disponible en un solo caso: cuando hay riesgo para la vida de la mujer o niña embarazada. El nuevo texto del Código Penal también establece que las mujeres que se inducen la terminación de su embarazo serán sentenciadas a 2 o 3 años de cárcel y que los profesionales de la salud que realicen abortos en cualquier otra circunstancia diferente a la permitida serán castigados y condenados a entre 4 y 10 años de prisión.

El Relator manifestó que “negar que las mujeres y niñas tengan acceso a servicios de aborto seguros por razones de salud, malformación fetal y embarazo derivado de una violación, ciertamente causará un excesivo y duradero sufrimiento físico y psicológico de muchas mujeres”

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The Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Mendez, along with other United Nations human rights experts called on the President of the Dominican Republic and its legislators to protect the right to sexual and reproductive health for women and girls in the country. The experts condemned the serious setback to the right to health for women and girls in the Dominican Republic, especially in terms of access to health insurance.

The experts expressed concern that according to the proposed amendment, termination of pregnancy is available in only one instance: when there is a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or girl. The Criminal Code’s new text also establishes that women who seek to terminate their pregnancies will be sentenced to 2 or 3 years in prison, and that health professionals who perform abortions under circumstances other than the one permitted will be punished and sentenced to between 4 and 10 years in prison.

He said ” denying that women and girls have access to safe abortion services for health reasons, fetal malformation and pregnancy resulting from rape, certainly will cause excessive and lasting physical and psychological suffering for many women.”

Read the full press release here (in Spanish)

Human Rights Experts Call on Governments to Implement the Nelson Mandela Rules

July, 19 2016 — To mark Nelson Mandela International Day, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez and a group of regional human rights experts called on Governments to implement the Nelson Mandela Rules, which are the primary – and sometimes the only – source of standards related to the treatment of prisoners.

“Their implementation in prisons around the world would significantly improve the treatment of millions of detainees,” the experts stated, adding that at the same time, the Rules provide “useful guidance to help prison staff deliver their important and difficult task in a professional and effective way, benefiting society at large.” Speedy and decisive steps towards implementation by States “would truly honour the legacy of the great Statesman and inspirational leader Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison,” the experts noted. “The revised Rules are premised on the recognition of prisoners’ inherent dignity and value as human beings,” said the Special Rapporteur, welcoming the fact that the Rules “contain essential new procedural standards and safeguards that will go a long way in protecting detainees from torture and other ill-treatment.”

To read the the experts’ full statement, please click here.

Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez and other independent United Nations Human Rights experts have called on the Turkish Government to abide by its international human rights obligations when dealing with the aftermath of last week’s military coup attempt.

July 19, 2016 Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez and other independent United Nations Human Rights experts have called on the Turkish Government to abide by its international human rights obligations when dealing with the aftermath of last week’s military coup attempt. Condemning in the strongest terms the recent events in which over 230 people have reportedly lost their lives, the experts stressed that “in times of crisis, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is more essential than ever,” and that “constitutional order will only be fully re-established if the separation of powers and the rule of law are upheld.”
“We are particularly alarmed at the sheer number of judges and prosecutors who have reportedly been suspended and arrested since Saturday,” the experts noted, in the wake of reports that the Turkish High Council for Judges and Prosecutors suspended a reported 2,745 judges and prosecutors of their functions, and that hundreds of arrest warrants have allegedly been issued, resulting so far in the arrest of possibly up to 755 judges and prosecutors, including two judges of the Constitutional Court. “According to international law, judges can be suspended or removed only on serious grounds of misconduct or incompetence after fair proceeding,” they stated , calling on the authorities to “release and reinstate these judges and prosecutors until credible allegations of wrong doing are properly investigated and evidenced.”
The human rights experts also drew attention to the number of arrests carried out to date, which official sources estimate at approximately 7,5000, calling on the Government to fully respect the physical integrity and rights of the detainees, in particular their “right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and to have effective access to a lawyer of their choice,”
“No sustainable end to this crisis will be achieved if journalists or other critical voices in politics or civil society are harassed or silenced by authorities or any other group,” continued the experts, while recalling the importance of guaranteeing public freedoms during these critical days. “We also urge the Turkish authorities to investigate independently and thoroughly all deaths related to this event, and to prosecute the perpetrators in full compliance with guarantees of due process and fair trial,” they added.
The group expressed serious concerns regarding calls to re-introduce the capital punishment abolished in 2004. “Re-introducing the death penalty is not legally permissible under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the European Convention on Human Rights and runs counter to the worldwide trend to abolish this form of punishment,” the independent experts cautioned.
Read the full statement here:

Special Rapporteur on Torture Hosts Expert Consultation on Investigative Interviewing Practices

July, 13 2016 — Last week, the Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez and the Anti-Torture Initiative hosted an expert consultation to inform the drafting of the Special Rapporteur’s forthcoming and final report to the United Nations General Assembly on interrogation techniques. During the meeting, practitioners, academics, advocates, and experts from around the world discussed standards for investigative interviewing practices by law enforcement and associated legal safeguards applicable in the context of criminal justice, counter-terrorism operations, and armed conflict situations.

Human Rights Experts Call on States to Increase Efforts to Prevent Torture‬ of LGBTI People in Detention

June 26, 2016 — On the occasion of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, a group of United Nations Human Rights experts, including the Special Rapporteur on Torture, called on States to redouble efforts to prevent the ill-treatment and ‪#‎torture‬ faced by LGBTI people in places of detention.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons face multiple and extreme forms of violence and discrimination, including torture and ill-treatment, and this is exacerbated when they are deprived of their liberty, for example in prisons where they are often subjected to abuse both by fellow inmates and staff.” the experts stated. “LGBTI people are often stigmatized and dehumanized, leaving them particularly vulnerable to violence and ill-treatment, that in many cases amounts to torture and is a clear violation of State obligations under international human rights law and standards such as the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” they continued.

To read the full press release, please click here.

ATI and Civil Society Partners Call on States to Ratify and Implement the OPCAT

June 24, 2016 — On the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), the Anti-Torture Initiative joined partner civil society organizations to call upon States to come together and renew their commitment to prevent torture. The group urged States to ratify and effectively implement the OPCAT, set up National Preventive Mechanisms, and take concrete measures to ensure that no person is subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

To read the joint civil society statement, please click here.

Special Rapporteur on Torture Receives Annual Center for Victims of Torture Eclipse Award

June, 22 2016 — Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Ernesto Mendez received this year’s annual Center for Victims of Torture Eclipse Award in recognition of his unwavering, lifelong devotion to the preservation of human rights, the prevention of torture and the rehabilitation of survivors.

“In presenting him with this year’s Eclipse Award, CVT commends Juan Méndez for his global leadership at the UN and his lifetime of work to prevent torture and advocate for survivors,” said Curt Goering, CVT’s executive director. “As a torture survivor and tireless, lifelong campaigner for human rights himself, there is not a more powerful or more credible voice in the campaign to end torture worldwide and heal its wounds.”

To read the statement by the Center for Victims of Torture, please click here.

Special Rapporteur on Torture Publishes Op-Ed on Solitary Confinement and the Treatment of Prisoners

June 20, 2016 — The Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez published an op-ed in Canada’s Globe and Mail on Monday discussing how prisons all over the world use extreme isolation of inmates, a practice defined as any regime in which prisoners remain alone from 22 to 24 hours a day, despite the absolute prohibition of physical and mental torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The Special Rapporteur stated that solitary confinement has become more widespread in recent decades, and in many countries, seems to be used for longer and longer periods of time. He explained that “psychiatric literature suggests that social isolation inflicts psychological pain and suffering on its subject and that its consequences become more severe the longer the period of solitary confinement.”

The Special Rapporteur highlighted the significance of the revised and updated version of the Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners, now called the Mandela Rules, which prohibit indefinite isolation as well as its use for prolonged periods – defined as any period exceeding 15 days. He emphasized how the Rules also forbid solitary confinement, of any duration, when used on certain categories of prisoners, including children and adolescents, persons with any mental disability, and pregnant or breast-feeding women, which he advocated for in his 2011 thematic report on Solitary Confinement. While the Special Rapporteur noted that isolation can serve some legitimate purposes, he stressed that “its use must be strictly limited in time and applied with due process safeguards, such as an independent adjudicator, a right to a hearing, and judicial control and review.”

To read the full op-ed, please click here.

Join Us for a Week-Long Retrospective of the Special Rapporteur on Torture’s Work for a #TortureFreeWorld

June 20, 2016 — Ahead of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we are launching a week-long retrospective of the Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez’s work for a #TortureFreeWorld. Throughout the week, we will be highlighting some of the most significant contributions made by the Rapporteurship over the last six years.

Check out our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for a look back on the Special Rapporteur’s work.

To read the Special Rapporteur’s Thematic Reports, please click here.

To read the Special Rapporteur’s Country Reports, please click here.

New York Times Editorial Board Calls on President Obama to Grant the Special Rapporteur on Torture Access to Guantanamo

June 20, 2016 — Today, The New York Times Editorial Board called on President Barack Obama to grant United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Ernesto Mendez access to visit and interview detainees in the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. “I want to believe that the use of torture by the United States is a dark chapter that has ended,” the Special Rapporteur said in an interview. “But I can’t be certain of that until we see a change in policy and verify that the United States is meeting all its international obligations,” he concluded.

Earlier this year, the Special Rapporteur and other independent human rights experts noted that “long term security can be regained [by the US] if a page is turned on this dark chapter of post-September 11 practices in response to terrorism,” and called on the Government to: end the prolonged arbitrary detention of all persons held at Guantánamo; establish an independent oversight mechanism to receive complaints, review all allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and provide access to effective remedies to all persons endured prolonged arbitrary arrest and/or physical and mental suffering; dismantle the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay and transfer the detainees charged with a criminal offence to United States federal facilities on the mainland; and investigate, prosecute and punish officials, public servants and military contractors who committed torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment, as well as those high level officials who ordered, tolerated or instigated such crimes.

The full article is available here.