with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment
Special Rapporteur’s Visit to Mexico Begins with Extensive Meetings in Mexico City

Special Rapporteur’s Visit to Mexico Begins with Extensive Meetings in Mexico City

April 21, 2014 – The Special Rapporteur and his team kicked off the visit to Mexico this Monday with a busy program of activities in the capital.  The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the visit in a statement, and local news outlets provided extensive coverage at the start of the visit. On his first day in Mexico City, the Special Rapporteur met with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, and the National Security Commission, marking the start of a full schedule that includes at least 25 official meetings with more more than 100 Federal and State government officials. The Special Rapporteur visited the Supreme Court of Justice in the afternoon, where he met its President, Mr. Juan Silva Meza and other judicial officers. Before the end of the first day, the Special Rapporteur and his team also met with members of the National Victims Commission and with representatives form local NGOs working ins sues of torture and ill-treatment. More information about the visit is available on our Mexico Country Page.

Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez Receives Two Awards for Human Rights Work

Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez Receives Two Awards for Human Rights Work

April 18, 2014 – Earlier this week, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez received the prestigious Death Penalty Focus Human Rights Award during the organization’s 23rd Annual Awards Dinner in Los Angeles. The Award recognizes the Special Rapporteur’s work in promoting the abolition of the death penalty system worldwide as well as his long-standing role as a human rights lawyer, activist, and educator. On Thursday in Washington, D.C., the Special Rapporteur received a second award from the Washington College of Law’s Lambda Law Society, for his commitment to the LGBT community and his advocacy for the human rights of LGBT youth. We join Death Penalty Focus and the Lambda Law Society in congratulating and thanking the Special Rapporteur for his tireless work and commitment to human rights around the world!

First official visit to Mexico by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – 21 April – 2 May, 2014

First official visit to Mexico by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – 21 April – 2 May, 2014

April 17, 2014 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez announced his first official visit to Mexico, which will take place from 21 April to 2 May, 2014. The purpose of the visit, which begins next week, will be to assess the situation and identify challenges regarding torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the country. During the visit, the Special Rapporteur intends to discuss and assess the implementation of the new criminal procedures legislation, coerced confessions before national courts, and the use of ‘arraigo’ detention, among other aspects relating to his mandate. The Special Rapporteur and his team will travel to several regions, including Mexico City, Nuevo Leon, Chiapas and Baja California, where they will visit prisons, police stations, interrogation centres, juvenile and women’s facilities, as well as psychiatric institutions and immigration detention facilities, in order to examine the treatment and living conditions of all persons deprived of their liberty. During the visit, the Special Rapporteur will meet with relevant authorities, the judiciary, national human rights institutions, civil society, international and regional organisations, victims and their families.  “I look forward to engaging in a constructive manner with key decision makers and leaders in civil society to help the authorities uphold the rule of law, promote accountability, fulfill the right to reparations for victims, and to ensure that alleged perpetrators are held responsible in conformity with international law,” the Special Rapporteur said ahead of the visit. To read the official UN press release, please visit the OHCHR website.

 

Co-ordinated Efforts Necessary to Eradicate the Practice of Torture, Says Special Rapporteur and Participants at OSCE Meeting

Co-ordinated Efforts Necessary to Eradicate the Practice of Torture, Says Special Rapporteur and Participants at OSCE Meeting

April 10 – 11, 2014 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez attended and delivered the keynote address at the OSCE’s Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Prevention of Torture in Vienna. Participants in the meeting agreed that coordinated efforts among states, international organizations and civil society are necessary to end the practice of torture. In his statements, the Special Rapporteur stressed that it is the obligation of every OSCE participating State to ensure its laws and practices effectively prevent the practice of torture, noting that the OSCE’s “dedication to the universal condemnation and eradication of torture is admirable and should serve as a launching point for individual state legislation and procedural norms that holistically and effectively seek to end the ill-treatment of all persons deprived of their liberty.” In this brief video recording, the Special Rapporteur discusses his mandate and the importance of multidisciplinary and well-coordinated efforts in combating and preventing torture and ill-treatment, as well as the importance of the OSCE’s efforts in these areas. More information about the meeting can be found on the OSCE’s website, and the Special Rapporteur’s full statement is available here,

Iran: UN Rights Experts Appeal for Urgent Medical Care for Detained Political Prisoners and Their Release

Iran: UN Rights Experts Appeal for Urgent Medical Care for Detained Political Prisoners and Their Release

April 10, 2014 – The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other independent human rights experts have expressed alarm at the denial of medical care of two political prisoners in Iran who risk death in detention due to their worsening health conditions, and urged Iranian authorities to provide them with medical treatment. This is the latest in a series of urgent appeals about the mistreatment and denial of medical care of blogger Mohammad Reza Pourshajari and religious cleric Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, to which the Government has not replied. The experts stressed that the two men’s health conditions are deemed to require urgent hospital transfer and have deteriorated due to physical abuse, poor prison conditions, prolonged solitary confinement, and other forms of repeated torture and ill-treatment. They experts reminded the  Government of its obligations under international standards to “respect the prisoners’ right to health and to ensure humane treatment, which requires transferring sick prisoners who need specialist medical care to a specialized institution or civil hospital,” highlighting that “pending the release of prisoners of conscience, the Government should take immediate measures to investigate all allegations related to the denial of access to medical care, conditions of detention and the treatment of prisoners in compliance with international standards and to embark on more comprehensive prison reforms.”

April 1, 2014 – The Special Rapporteur on Torture has  issued a statement in support of the NGO Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility’s (ADPSR) call for an end to designs that facilitate torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.  In his statement, the Special Rapporteur endorses ADPSR’s petition to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to amend its Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to prohibit the design of spaces intended for prolonged solitary confinement, explaining that such a prohibition would be “a welcome step in advancing respect for human rights within civil society.”  The Special Rapporteur explained that the design of prison environments can in general help meet human rights  standards but that in some extreme cases, design may actually facilitate abuse.  He elaborated that architects participate in shaping the experience of people in detention, and can therefore play a meaningful role in resolving the human rights problems caused by the practice of solitary confinement by  prohibiting the design of spaces that leading to such cruel, inhuman, or degrading conditions. The Special Rapporteur’s full statement is available here, and a link to the ADPSR’s ethics petition is available here and via www.change.org.

Egypt Mass Death Sentences: A Mockery of Justice

Egypt Mass Death Sentences: A Mockery of Justice

March 31, 2014 – The Special Rapporteur on Torture and seven other UN human rights experts have urged the Egyptian authorities to quash the 529 death sentences announced in Egypt last week, and to give the defendants new and fair trials so as to ensure respect of international human rights law. The experts stressed that the right to life is a fundamental right and that “if the death penalty is to be used at all in countries which have abolished it, international law requires the most stringent respect of a number of fundamental standards.” The experts further noted that they are “appalled” by the lack of clarity of the charges under which each individual was sentenced to death and by reports that some of them received capital punishment for charges of unlawful gathering, or any other offence not involving murder, which indicate a clear violation of international law. To read the full text of the press release, please visit the OHCHR website.
Torture, International Law, and the Fight against Terrorism: A Conversation Between the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Amrit Singh

Torture, International Law, and the Fight against Terrorism: A Conversation Between the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Amrit Singh

March 27, 2014 – The Special Rapporteur on Torture participated in a discussion on the topic of “Torture, International Law, and the Fight against Terrorism,” alongside Amrit Singh, Senior Legal Officer for the National Security and Counterterrorism program at the Open Society Justice Initiative, at the City College of New York.  The Special Rapporteur discussed international legal mechanisms for the eradication of torture and ill-treatment. He noted that in the wake of the so-called War on Terror, some of the cardinal legal principles necessary to prevent and suppress torture and ill-treatment, as well as the widespread public condemnation and moral outrage against the use of torture by the international community, have been diluted. In this context, the Special Rapporteur discussed the prospects for achieving a practical abolition of torture in the future. To view a webcast of the discussion, please visit this link.

A Recipe for the Eradication of Torture: An Interview with the Special Rapporteur on Torture

A Recipe for the Eradication of Torture: An Interview with the Special Rapporteur on Torture

March 29, 2014 – In this new Spanish-language interview, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez discusses his activities at the recently concluded UN Human Rights Council Session in Geneva and his new thematic report on the exclusionary rule and the use of torture-tainted evidence by states. The Special Rapporteur also discusses various aspects of his mandate, and addresses the problem of torture and ill-treatment in Latin America, including recent allegations of recent abuses and excessive use of force in Venezuela. To read the full article in Spanish, please click here.

United Nations Human Rights Council Extends Mandate of Special Rapporteur on Torture

United Nations Human Rights Council Extends Mandate of Special Rapporteur on Torture

March 24, 2014 – The United Nations Human Rights Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for another three years in a new resolution. The resolution urges States to respond favourably to the Special Rapporteur’s requests to visit their countries, to adopt a victim-centered and gender-sensitive approach in the fight against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to become parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as a matter of priority. To read the full text of the resolution please visit the UN website.