Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
February 21, 2014 – In this recent PBS Newshour segment, the Special Rapporteur discusses the solitary confinement of juveniles at Rikers Island prison in New York and throughout detention facilities in the United States. The Special Rapporteur explains that solitary confinement for young offenders is prohibited as a matter of international law and that medical and psychiatric literature demonstrates that young offenders suffer isolation in very different and much worse forms than adults. The Special Rapporteur reiterated that solitary confinement should never be used for juveniles, persons with mental disabilities, and women who are pregnant or feeding children, and should never be prolonged or indefinite in all cases. The full video segment is available on the PBS website.
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.
February 12, 2014 – The Special Rapporteur and the ATI team concluded a three-day follow-up visit to the Republic of Tajikistan on Wednesday, February 12, 2014. During the visit, the team met high-level Government officials, members of local civil society, and representatives from international and regional organizations to assess the level of implementation of the recommendations issued by the Special Rapporteur after his 2012 visit to Tajikistan. During a press conference at the end of the visit, the Special Rapporteur urged the Government to work towards fully implementing its policies for the eradication and prevention of torture and ill-treatment, noting that the gap between policies and practice still needs be bridged on the ground. For in-depth information about the visit, including video clips from a full-day Roundtable event that brought together an array of stakeholders for substantive discussions on the Government’s Action Plan for implementing the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations for combating torture and ill-treatment, visit our Tajikistan page.
February 6, 2014 – The Special Rapporteur on Torture and other UN independent experts on the human rights to food, health, housing, water and sanitation, and on summary executions and torture, urged all parties to the Syrian conflict to stop the use of civilian suffering as a method of war, in a recent press release. According to the experts the ongoing acts in Syria, including the indiscriminate shelling of civilians, enforced disappearances and executions, the deprivation of the basic necessities of life, and the denial of humanitarian relief, amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. The experts expressed outrage at the extreme human suffering caused by the “extreme human suffering caused by the apparent blatant disregard for human rights and humanitarian law,” further noting that these morally abhorrent acts present a major obstacle to building peace in Syria. To read to press release in full, please visit the UN OHCHR website.
January 22, 2014 – The Special Rapporteur on Torture endorsed a recent appeal by the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, and on summary executions, Christof Heyns, who have called on the Government of Iran to urgently halt the abrupt surge in hangings in the country since the start of 2014. The Special Rapporteurs report that at least 40 persons have been reportedly hanged in the first two weeks of January in Iran, and that 625 executions, including at least 28 women and a number of political prisoners were reported to have been carried out in 2013. The majority of executions were carried out for drug-related offences, and a number involved crimes of Moharabeh (‘enmity against God’), or acting against national security. The independent human rights experts expressed deep concern that the Government proceeds with executions for crimes that do not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes” under international law, and about the lack of due process rights in these cases. To read the press release in full, please visit the website of Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed.
January 10, 2014 – The UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Migrants’ Rights have jointly called urged Spain to halt the extradition of Alexandr Pavlov, a prominent Kazakh opposition figure, to Kazakhstan. The independent human rights experts called on the Spanish Council of Ministers to consider Mr. Pavlov’s appeal based on substantial fears that he may be tortured or receive an unfair trial if extradited. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez recalled that all states must ensure that extradition does not put an individual at risk of persecution, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, and called on Spain to adopt “all necessary measures to safeguard Mr. Pavlov’s rights and physical integrity.” To read the press release in full, please visit the UN OHCHR website.