with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment
Special Rapporteur on Torture Publishes Op-Ed on Solitary Confinement and the Treatment of Prisoners

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

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

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.

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

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.

 

El Relator Especial atendió al seminario de UNICEF al respecto de las condiciones de privación de libertad de niños, niñas y adolescentes

El Relator Especial atendió al seminario de UNICEF al respecto de las condiciones de privación de libertad de niños, niñas y adolescentes

El 25 de mayo de 2016 el Relator Especial sobre la Tortura, Juan Ernesto Mendez, atendió al seminario de UNICEF en Buenos Aires en fecha 19 y 20 de Mayo donde se trataron temas sobre sistemas de supervisión y monitoreo de las condiciones de privación de libertad de niños, niñas y adolescentes. En palabras del Relator: “la situación es preocupante porque cuanto más alta es la tasa de encarcelamiento, más es la incidencia de maltrato, tortura y aislamiento.”

Así también para el Relator “encontrar las maneras más racionales, y por lo tanto más humanitarias, para combatir la criminalidad, que permitan rescatar y rehabilitar a niños, niñas y adolescentes” es de suma importancia.

Para mas información pueden acceder al siguiente video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzFWzCj8k70

El Relator Especial Juan E. Mendez asisitió al debate sobre “El rol del Estado frente a la violencia contra las mujeres” en Buenos Aires

El Relator Especial Juan E. Mendez asisitió al debate sobre “El rol del Estado frente a la violencia contra las mujeres” en Buenos Aires

El 19 de Mayo de 2016 el Relator Especial sobre la Tortura, Juan E. Mendez, asistió al debate sobre “El rol del Estado frente a la violencia contra las mujeres: tortura y otros malos tratos en el ámbito de la salud sexual y reproductiva,” organizado por Amnistía Internacional Argentina y la Comisión de Derechos Humanos y Garantías de la Cámara de Diputados de la Nación.

El Relator Especial sobre la Tortura presentó su informe tematico, que brinda una perspectiva transversal y de género a la agenda de tortura y malos tratos. El Relator Especial evaluó la aplicabilidad de la prohibición de la tortura y otros tratos o penas crueles, inhumanos o degradantes en el derecho internacional a las experiencias propias de las mujeres, las niñas y las personas lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, transgénero e intersexuales

Para mayor informacion al respecto de este debate puede acceder a la siguiente pagina web:
http://www.amnistia.org.ar/sites/all/themes/template_ai/violenciaytortura.pdf?utm_source&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Charla+-+SSRR

Special Rapporteur joined the call for the “end the pathologization of LGBT adults and children” on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Special Rapporteur joined the call for the “end the pathologization of LGBT adults and children” on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

May 17, 2016- On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez joined other UN and regional human rights mechanisms* to call for an end to the pathologization of LGBT adults and children. The “pathologization of LGBT adults and children – branding them as ill based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression – has historically been, and continues to be, one of the root causes behind the human rights violations that they face. It is also an obstacle to overcoming negative attitudes, stereotypes, and the multiple barriers for the realization of LGBT people’ s most fundamental human rights,” the experts stated.

Pathologizing and stigmatizing medical classifications relating to gender identity and expression continue to be used as a basis for subjecting LGBT people to abusive, harmful and unethical forced treatments, including so-called “conversion” or “reparative therapies” based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. They are also used to justify subjecting trans people, even at young ages, to forced or coercive sterilization, hormone therapy, surgeries, and psychiatric evaluations, and in other ways abusively conditioning their human rights. “Forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary treatments and procedures can lead to severe and life-long physical and mental pain and suffering and can violate the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the Special Rapporteur on Torture warned. “Being lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans is part of the rich diversity of human nature. We are deeply concerned that transgender children and adults continue to be pathologized based on international and national medical classifications,” the experts further concluded. ‪#‎WhyWeFight‬

Read the press release here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx…

Read the Special Rapporteur on Torture’s latest thematic report on Gender Perspectives on Torture here: http://antitorture.org/…/…/Gender_Report_A_HRC_31_57_E-5.pdf

Watch a side-event on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons, organized with ILGA World and the Association for the Prevention of Torture, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH06O8xGvBc

* The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Special Rapporteurs on extreme poverty and human rights; on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; and on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

Secret Area of Guantanamo Bay Could be Opened to the Special Rapporteur on Torture

Secret Area of Guantanamo Bay Could be Opened to the Special Rapporteur on Torture

May 12, 2016 — Attorneys for Ammar al-Baluchi, one of the accused 9/11 co-conspirators facing a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, will request that the judge in the case order access to Guantanamo’s Camp 7 – where he and other detainees formerly in brutal CIA custody reside practically incommunicado – for the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez.

“It is essential to my mandate to ensure that State institutions, including the facility at Guantanamo Bay, uphold unambiguously a zero tolerance policy against torture and ill-treatment and make efforts to eliminate the risk of ill-treatment and excessive force by the detaining authorities while in detention,” wrote the Special Rapporteur in a declaration to be submitted to the military commission.

For additional information, please click here.

UN Human Rights Experts Condemn the Execution of Six Persons in Afghanistan Without Fair Trial Guarantees

UN Human Rights Experts Condemn the Execution of Six Persons in Afghanistan Without Fair Trial Guarantees

May 10, 2016 — United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez joined Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions Christof Heyns in condemning the execution of six alleged members of illegal armed groups in Afghanistan for “serious crimes and crimes against civilians,” despite the absence of fair trial guarantees and the continued practice of ‪torture‬ to obtain confessions.

The six executions, reportedly carried out by hanging on 8 May in the Pol-e Charkhi prison in Kabul, were the first to take place in Afghanistan since February 2015, breaking the ‘unofficial moratorium’ implemented by the Government. The Afghan authorities announced that they had conducted ‘a full review’ ensuring that the judicial procedures leading to the death sentences complied with Afghanistan’s human rights obligations, but did not disclose any detail on the review. However, “no evidence of the nature of the trial or the review is available. Where the death penalty is imposed in a trial which does not comply with the highest standards of fairness, that in itself constitutes a violation of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, to which Afghanistan is a party,” said the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions.

Following a Taliban attack on 19 April 2016 that caused the death of 58 civilians and injured another 352, the President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, announced that he would not pardon persons sentenced to death for attacks against civilians and the armed forces. For the human rights expert, “the fact that the executions have apparently been carried out in retaliation for the tragic attack on 19 April, for which the persons executed were not responsible, is also a sign of their arbitrariness.”

It is also “of great concern that there appears to be a practice of torture and ill-treatment to elicit confessions of suspects, in particular for national security cases”, the Special Rapporteur on Torture stated.

The experts further noted that they share the concern of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan that the executions will not contribute to peace in Afghanistan, and strongly urge the Government of Afghanistan to return to a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

To read the full press release, please click here.

Female Genital Mutilation and Excision is on the Rise in Guinea

Female Genital Mutilation and Excision is on the Rise in Guinea

April 28, 2016 — In his recent report on Gender Perspectives on Torture, Special Rapporteur Juan E. Mendez found that domestic laws permitting Female genital mutilation (FGM/E) and States’ failure to take measures to prevent and prosecute instances of FGM/E by private persons contravene their obligation to prohibit and prevent torture and ill-treatment.

While the practice appears to be decreasing worldwide, is still firmly anchored in 29 countries in Africa & the Middle East, and is on the rise in Guinea, with 97% of women & girls aged 15-49 having undergone excision, according to a new United Nations Human Rights report. “The persistence of FGM/E is in large part due to an absence of vigorous action by judicial authorities to ensure their prevention and eradication,” the new report finds. “Thousands of young girls are excised across the country every year, during school vacations, with the full knowledge of judicial personnel including prosecutors and instructing magistrates.”

The report further points out that non-excision of girls is considered dishonourable in Guinean society, and social pressure leads to a fear of being excluded or forced to remain unmarried if they do not suffer the practice.

For additional information on the United Nations Human Rights report on FGM/E, please click here.