Category Archives: Press Releases

Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Human Rights Experts Urged Bangladesh to Annul Death Sentence against Opposition Member

August 23, 2016- Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez and other independent United Nations Human Rights experts urge Bangladesh to annul the death sentence against Mir Quasem Ali, a senior opposition member of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, and to re-try him in compliance with international standards. Their request comes as the Supreme Court prepares to review the case on Wednesday 24 August. “Mr. Ali’s trial and appeal processes were reportedly marred with irregularities and failed to meet international standards on fair trial and due process for the imposition of the death penalty,” they said. “The death penalty is the most severe form of punishment,” the experts stressed, adding that “[i]n light of its irreversibility” it is imperative to take every measure to ensure that all defendants receive a fair trial.

You can read the press release in full here.

Special Rapporteur on Torture urged the Turkish Government to uphold its obligations under international human rights law

August 19, 2016- The Special Rapporteur on Torture together with United Nations Human Rights experts urged the Turkish Government to uphold its obligations under international human rights law, after the Government notified the Secretary-General of its invocation of Article 4 derogation provision of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Turkey ratified in 2003. The derogation provision in Article 4 allows States to temporarily relax some of their obligations under the Covenant under certain narrow conditions.
“The invocation of Article 4 is lawful only if there is a threat to the life of the nation, a condition that arguably is not met in this case,” the experts noted. “Even in situations that meet this high threshold, Article 4 establishes limits to how much a state may deviate from its obligations under the Covenant”, they added. “One cannot avoid, even in times of emergency, obligations to protect the right to life, prohibit torture, adhere to fundamental elements of due process and non-discrimination, and protect everyone’s right to belief and opinion,” the experts underscored.
Since the attempted coup on 15 July, and in particular since the declaration of state of emergency on 20 July, Turkish society has seen an escalation of detentions and purges, in particular in the education, media, military and justice sectors. In addition, allegations of torture and poor detention conditions have been raised following legislative provisions that enable wide and indiscriminate administrative powers that affect core human rights.
“While we understand the sense of crisis in Turkey,” the experts said, “we are concerned that the Government’s steps to limit a broad range of human rights guarantees go beyond what can be justified in light of the current situation”. In recent statements, UN human rights experts have urged the Turkish Government to uphold the rule of law in time of crisis, voicing their concern about the use of emergency measures to target dissent and criticism. “Turkey is going through a critical period. Derogation measures must not be used in a way that will push the country deeper into crisis,” the experts stressed.
See the full press release here

Special Rapporteur on Torture called on Brazilian legislators to protect the human rights of children by rejecting the proposal of lowering the age of criminal responsibility of children

17 August 2016- The Special Rapporteur on Torture called on Brazilian legislators to protect the human rights of children in conflict with the law by rejecting a proposed constitutional amendment that would lower the age of criminal responsibility of children. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture said that “The detention of children is inextricably linked with the ill-treatment of children, who are at heightened risks of violence, abuses, and acts of torture when deprived of their liberty,” and also stressed that “Children’s unique vulnerability requires States to implement higher standards and broader safeguards for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment.”

O relator especial contra a tortura Juan E. Méndez pediu que os legisladores brasileiros protejam os direitos humanos das crianças e adolescentes em conflito com a lei e rejeitem a Proposta de Emenda Constitucional número 33/2012, que prevê a redução da maioridade penal de 18 para 16 anos para crimes hediondos. O apelo ocorreu enquanto a Comissão de Constituição e Justiça e de Cidadania do Senado prepara-se para votar a proposta. O relator falou que “a prisão está intrinsecamente ligada a maus-tratos de crianças, que estão em maior risco de sofrer violência, abusos e atos de tortura quando privadas de liberdade,” e alertou que “a vulnerabilidade das crianças requer que o Estado implemente padrões mais altos e garantias mais amplas de prevenção à tortura e maus-tratos.” O relator também expressou preocupação com projeto de lei 333/2015 que prevê elevação do prazo máximo de cumprimento de medida socioeducativa para crianças e adolescentes infratores com mais de 14 anos de três para dez anos. Ele explicou que “crianças são menos desenvolvidas emocional e psicologicamente que os adultos. Então, elas são menos responsáveis por suas ações, e as sentenças devem sempre refletir os princípios da reabilitação e da reintegração na sociedade.” O relator complementou que aprovação dessas propostas pioraria a situação das penitenciárias brasileiras que já estão seriamente superlotadas, uma condição que frequentemente significa tratamento cruel, desumano e degradante.
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Special Rapporteur on Torture urges China to stop ill-treatment of human rights defender Guo Feixiong

August 4, 2016- Human rights experts expressed deep concern today about the health condition of prominent Chinese human rights defender, Yang Maodong, also known as Guo Feixiong. Mr. Guo was arrested in August 2013 for participating in a public protest against the censorship of a Guangzhou newspaper and was sentenced to six years imprisonment in November 2015 for “gathering crowds to disturb public order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” The experts are concerned about repeated incidents of degrading and humiliating treatment suffered by Mr. Guo, including “sleep deprivation, harassment, and humiliating medical procedure filmed by prison officials for public release.” Mr. Guo has been on a hunger strike for approximately three months and is demanding to be transferred to another prison where he would not be subjected to ill-treatment. The experts stated that Mr. Guo’s public profile as a human rights defender “seems to [be] the cause and aggravating factor for the denial of appropriate medical care and ill-treatment.” They went on to say that “Mr. Guo’s six-year imprisonment is connected to his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities” and that “[h]is only wrong-doing was to have exercised his rights to peaceful assembly and expression concerning censorship in China.” The experts urged the Chinese Government to heed Mr. Guo’s demands and take immediate measures to stop the degrading and humiliating treatment, ensure independent medical care (with Mr. Guo’s consent), and transfer him to another prison.
See the full press release here

Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Human Rights Experts Urge Indonesia to Halt Executions for Drug-Related Offences

July 27, 2016 — Fourteen death row prisoners in Indonesia, all of whom have been sentenced to death for drug-related offences, are scheduled to be executed by firing this week. A group of UN human rights experts have urged the Indonesian Government to halt the executions of individuals convicted of drug-related offences and re-try them in compliance with international standards.

Under international law, the death penalty may only be imposed for the most serious crimes, meaning those involving intentional killing, and “drug related offences do not meet this threshold,” the experts said. The experts also expressed alarm that at least four of those scheduled for execution were reportedly tortured and forced to incriminate themselves. “Resorting to this type of punishment to prevent drug trafficking is not only illegal, it is also futile,” they said, noting further that “there is a lack of any persuasive evidence that the death penalty contributes more than any other punishment to eradicating drug trafficking.” The experts emphasized that the “death sentences are unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution as they are undertaken in contravention of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations.”

To read the full press release, please click here.

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.

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.

UN Human Rights Experts Hail Progress Despite Obstacles on International Albinism Awareness Day

June 13, 2016 — Today, on International Albinism Awareness Day, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez joined other United Nations Human Rights experts in drawing awareness to the fact that despite progress in protecting the human rights of persons with albinism, key obstacles remain. Physical attacks – particularly of women and children – continue and have now been reported in areas and countries where it was believed not to have been an issue. New cases of violence show that a lot of work remains to be done to bring tangible hope and change to the lives of persons with albinism, who continue to suffer discrimination and live in fear of attacks. Too often, persons with albinism are not provided with reasonable accommodation for their visual impairment and do not have access to adequate health care. In a time when diversity is celebrated, no one should be cast out, violated or attacked due to his or her appearance. “On this second International Albinism Awareness Day, we celebrate persons with albinism who have overcome tremendous challenges to de-mystify albinism using the example of their lives,” the experts stated.

To read the full press release, please click here.

Please visit the United Nations Human Rights website dedicated to the human rights of people with albinism.