with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment
Special Rapporteur Delivers Antonio Cassese Lecture and Participates in Conference in Florence, Italy

Special Rapporteur Delivers Antonio Cassese Lecture and Participates in Conference in Florence, Italy

November 20, 2014 – This week, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez delivered the third annual Antonio Cassese Lecture on the struggle against torture at the University of Florence. The Special Rapporteur also participated in a conference and discussion panel sponsored by Amnesty International Italy, the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation of Europe, and the Tuscany Regional Government, as part of Amnesty International’s “Stop Torture” campaign. More information about the Special Rapporteur’s activities in Florence in Italian can be accessed here.

 

Bosnia & Herzegovina: UN Experts Raise Alarm on Imminent Release of a Man Convicted of Genocide

Bosnia & Herzegovina: UN Experts Raise Alarm on Imminent Release of a Man Convicted of Genocide

November 19, 2014 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez and other independent UN human rights experts have expressed alarm over the potential imminent release of Mr. Milorad Trbic, who was convicted in 2009 by the Bosnian State Court of committing genocide in Srebernica and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The experts’ call comes after the Bosnian Constitutional Court quashed the verdict and ordered a retrial, without questioning Mr. Trbic’s guilt. The independent experts stated that the interests of justice clearly require that people convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious crimes, including torture and enforced disappearances, whose guilt is not in question, should not be released pending retrial and that punishment should be consistent with the gravity of the offense. They called on the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take all necessary steps to protect victims, ensure that their rights to truth and justice are respected and adopt a comprehensive transitional justice strategy as a matter of priority. To read the press release in full, please visit the OHCHR website.

Expert Consultation on Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty

Expert Consultation on Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty

November 10 – 11, 2014 – The Center’s Anti-Torture Initiative, with support from the Ford Foundation, hosted a convening of experts to discuss topics related to the torture and ill-treatment of juveniles deprived of their liberty on November 10 – 11, 2014.  More than thirty experts from around the world convened at WCL to brief Professor Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT), with a view to informing the drafting his upcoming thematic report to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The experts discussed legal standards, best practices, and an array of topics pertaining to the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of juveniles deprived of their liberty.

The Gambia – Special Rapporteurs Prevented from Completing Torture and Killing Investigations During Visit

The Gambia – Special Rapporteurs Prevented from Completing Torture and Killing Investigations During Visit

November 7, 2014 – Special Rapporteurs Juan E. Méndez and Christof Heyns issued a statement at the end of their joint visit to the Gambia explaining that they have been prevented from completing the investigation into torture and killings in the country, which they set out to conduct during their week-long mission to the country. The independent human rights experts explained that the Government denied them access to sections of the first prison that they attempted to visit, during a press conference held earlier today. Special Rapporteur Heyns stated that “[d]ue to denial of access to the Security Wing of Mile 2 prison to visit those sentenced to lengthy sentences, including the death penalty, an inference must be drawn that there is something important to hide.” According to Special Rapporteur Méndez, the experts received testimonies of torture from people who did not want to be identified out of fear for either their own safety or their families. He elaborated that the team was “able to conduct thorough interviews and conduct forensic examinations. We found the testimonies truthful and were able to substantiate this with physical evidence that is conclusive of torture,” he continued. To read the end of visit statement in full, please visit the OHCHR website.

Special Rapporteur to Undertake Country Visit to The Gambia

Special Rapporteur to Undertake Country Visit to The Gambia

October 30, 2014 – Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez will visit the Gambia from 3 to 7 November, together with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns, in the first official visit to the country by experts from the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures branch. During the visit, the Special Rapporteur will assess the situation on the ground and identify challenges regarding torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  In particular, he plans to examine “allegations of torture or other ill-treatment, the conditions of detention in all places where persons are deprived of their liberties, including the conditions of persons on death row.” The experts will meet with high ranking Government officials, various U.N. agencies, international and local nongovernmental organizations, and civil society representatives in, and will visit places of detention, including prisons, police stations, interrogation centers, juvenile and women’s facilities, and psychiatric institutions. The visit comes at the invitation of the government, and the Special Rapporteurs have stated that they look forward to assisting the Gambian Government in coping with some of the challenges it faces regarding these issues and in finding solutions that uphold the rule of law, promote accountability for human rights violations, and fulfill the right of reparation for victims. A joint press conference will be held on 7 November 2014, at 1:30 pm, at the Conference Room of the Ocean Bay Hotel & Resort, Cape Point, Bakau, during which the experts will share their preliminary findings. For more information, including daily updates about the visit, please visit our page dedicated to the Gambia mission.

Special Rapporteur at the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Special Rapporteur at the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

October 21-22, 2014 - During the week of Monday, October 20, 2014, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez attended the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), held a press conference, and participated in thematic side-events alongside UN colleagues, State delegates, and civil society partners in New York City.  During the Session, the Special Rapporteur presented his latest thematic report on the role of forensic and medical sciences in the investigation and prevention of torture and other ill-treatmentand engaged in an interactive dialogue on his recent activities and other topics related to his mandate. To read more about the Special Rapporteur’s week at the General Assembly and watch videos of all the main events, please visit this page.

Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez Receives Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award

Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez Receives Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award

October 14, 2014 - Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez received a Special Recognition Award at the prestigious 38th Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards. Each year in early October, the Institute for Policy Studies hosts the annual human rights award in the names of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, who were killed by agents of the Chile’s military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet in Washington, DC, in 1976. The award celebrates human rights defenders in the United States and the Americas. This year, Professor Méndez was honored for his work as a jurist and human rights activist, and for his work as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. The award was presented by Rev. William Wipfler and Mr. John Hutchinson, who led advocacy efforts in 1977 to have Professor Méndez declared a prisoner of conscience and released from Argentine junta’s notorious Unit 9 prison, where he was detained because of his defense, as a lawyer, of political prisoners threatened by torture and arbitrary arrest in the 1970s. Special Rapporteur Méndez and this year’s other awardees were congratulated by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in a special video message, and featured in media outlets including the Washington Post. The recipients of this year’s domestic and international awards are Robin Reineke from the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, and the Mesoamerican Initiative of Human Rights Defenders. For more information and muiltimedia, please visit this page.

Who Cares About the Suffering of Older persons at the End of Their Lives? We Do, Say UN Human Rights Experts

Who Cares About the Suffering of Older persons at the End of Their Lives? We Do, Say UN Human Rights Experts

October 11, 2014 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez and other UN independent human rights experts have warned that unnecessary suffering of older persons for lack of pain medicines and palliative care at the end of their lives violates basic human rights. On the occasion of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, the experts stressed that “palliative care is an obligatory integral part of the full realization of the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” Special Rapporteur Méndez urged governments around the world to ensure full access to palliative care of all terminally ill, including older persons, and overcome all obstacles that restrict availability to essential palliative care medications. “States should promote widespread understanding about the therapeutic usefulness of controlled substances and their rational use,” he stated, emphasizing that states have an obligation to prevent pain and suffering that amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. To read the press release in full, please visit the OHCHR website.

Mexico Faces Crucial Test in Investigation of Deaths and Enforced Disappearances of Students in Guerrero: UN Human Rights Experts

Mexico Faces Crucial Test in Investigation of Deaths and Enforced Disappearances of Students in Guerrero: UN Human Rights Experts

October 10, 2014 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez and other UN independent human rights experts have called on Mexican authorities to focus their efforts on an investigation into the killings and enforced disappearances of students in Guerrero.  At the end of September, six people died and at least 17 others were injured after a series of events in the municipality of Iguala, following operations in which the local municipal police reportedly took part. Since then, 43 students from the Rural Normal School ‘Raúl Isidro Burgos’ Ayotzinapa remain disappeared. The Special Rapporteurs stated that “what happened in Guerrero is absolutely reprehensible and unacceptable. It is not tolerable that these kind of events happen, and even less so in a State respectful of the Rule of Law.” The experts urged the Mexican authorities to focus their efforts on finding the whereabouts of the disappeared persons and to shed full light on these events. They also expressed their concern over the discovery of six mass graves in areas near the city of Iguala. To date, it has not been confirmed that the burnt bodies in the graves belong to the disappeared students. The experts welcomed the arrival of the Argentinian Team of Forensic Anthropology which will be involved in the process of identification of the remains together with the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic and the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Guerrero. To read the press release in full, please visit the OHCHR website.

ATI Hosts Seminar on NEXT STEPS TOWARDS A HUMAN RIGHTS PENITENTIARY SYSTEM IN URUGUAY

ATI Hosts Seminar on NEXT STEPS TOWARDS A HUMAN RIGHTS PENITENTIARY SYSTEM IN URUGUAY

September 30, 2014 – On Friday, September 24, 2014, the Anti-Torture Initiative hosted a day-long conference in Montevideo, Uruguay, to promote discussion of our breakthrough Spanish-language publication Next Steps Towards a Human Rights Penitentiary System in Uruguay: Reflections on the Implementation of the 2009 and 2013 Recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, which features 20 essays that reflect on the practical implementation of the recommendations made by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez after his follow-up visit to Uruguay in December 2012. The seminar was co-organized with Uruguay’s National Human Rights Institution, the UNDP, and several local and international NGOs. The event brought together prominent activists, government officials, lawyers and academics, and more than 200 key stakeholders for a vigorous day-long discussion and debate of the critical issues addressed in the publication. The event was featured prominently by the local media and civil society organizations. To read more about the seminar in English and Spanish, please visit our page dedicated to the event.