with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment
Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez Discusses Report on Mexico

Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez Discusses Report on Mexico

April 8, 2015 – This week, the Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez published an op-ed in Mexico’s El Universal and gave an interview on CNN en Español, discussing his recent report on Mexico. The Special Rapporteur addressed the Government’s concerns regarding the report’s characterization of the use of torture in Mexico as “generalized,” noting that the term is intended to denote that the use of torture is not limited to one particular investigative body or authority within the country. He further detailed his method of work, noting that his report was based, among other sources, on extensive interviews with detainees in more than 11 detention facilities in five regions of Mexico conducted during his visit to Mexico in the spring of 2014. The Special Rapporteur stressed that he looks forward to continued constructive dialogue with the Government of Mexico and to the possibility of conducting a follow-up visit to Mexico in the future. You can watch the interview on CCN en Español here and read the op-ed in El Universal here.

Letter from Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez to the Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations

Letter from Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez to the Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations

April 1, 2015 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez has addressed a letter to the Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations on the topic of his 2014 official visit to and subsequent report on Mexico, and the Mexican Government’s response to the report. The letter is available in Spanish and English here. The Special Rapporteur’s report on Mexico is available here.

 

Human Rights Organizations Publish Open Letter Following Government Response to Special Rapporteur on Torture’s Report on Mexico

Human Rights Organizations Publish Open Letter Following Government Response to Special Rapporteur on Torture’s Report on Mexico

March 31, 2015 – A group of more than thirty human rights groups have expressed concern about the Mexican Government’s rejection of findings made by Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez in his report on his 2014 visit to Mexico. The Spanish-language statement, which takes the form of an open letter addressed to Mexico’s President, is available here.

Special Rapporteur Begins Country Visit to Georgia

Special Rapporteur Begins Country Visit to Georgia

On March 12, 2015, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez kicked-off an information-gathering mission to Georgia, ten years after the first visit to the country by his predecessor. During the eight day visit, the Special Rapporteur will meet with high-level government officials in the executive and the judiciary, parliamentary committee members, national human rights institutions, civil society, international and regional organizations, as well as victims and their families. He will travel to both Eastern and Western Georgia to conduct unannounced visits to places of detention such as police stations, temporary detention isolators, pre-trial facilities and penitentiaries. “In recent years, the Georgian Government has opened up to the international community and engaged with human rights experts to try and improve a wide range of issues within the criminal justice system,” the Special Rapporteur said in an official press release at the start of the visit.  “It is my hope to play a small part in this shift to a more transparent society by having a constructive dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders to assist the Government to identify ongoing challenges that it may have with regards to upholding the rule of law, promoting accountability for torture and ill-treatment, and fulfilling the right of reparations for victims,” he continued. The Special Rapporteur has in particular welcomed Georgia’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) and the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). Visit our Georgia Country Page for more information about the visit, including daily progress updates and links local news and other media.

Special Rapporteur Addresses and Participates in Interactive Dialogue at United Nations Human Rights Council

Special Rapporteur Addresses and Participates in Interactive Dialogue at United Nations Human Rights Council

March 9 – 10, 2015 – This week Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez addressed the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva and engaged in an interactive dialogue with Member States and civil society. The Special Rapporteur discussed his latest thematic report on children deprived of their liberty, as well as country repots on visits to Mexico and The Gambia and follow-up visits Tunisia and Tajikistan. Video-recordings of the address and interactive dialogue are available in two parts: March 9, part 1; March 10, part 2. Please follow these links to learn more about the Special Rapporteur’s activities at the Human Rights Council, including side-events, and about his report on juveniles deprived of liberty, including the #StopChildTorture campaign.

Special Rapporteur to present thematic report on torture and ill-treatment of children deprived of liberty

Special Rapporteur to present thematic report on torture and ill-treatment of children deprived of liberty

March 6, 2015 -  From March 9-11, 2015, the Special Rapporteur on Torture will be participating in activities at the 28th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC).  During the Session, the Special Rapporteur will address the Human Rights Council to present his latest activities and reports, including his newest thematic report on children deprived of liberty.  The Special Rapporteur will also conduct an interactive dialogue with State Delegations and NGOs, and hold a press conference and participate in several side-events addressing a diverse array of human rights issues. More information about these activities and relevant documentation is available on our 28th Session of the Human Rights Council page.

Special Rapporteur discusses Albert Woodfox’s case in new Amnesty International’s video

Special Rapporteur discusses Albert Woodfox’s case in new Amnesty International’s video

February 16, 2015 – In a new video created by Amnesty International, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez discusses the case of Albert Woodfox, who has been held in solitary confinement in Louisiana State Penitentiary since 1972. Mr. Woodfox was originally convicted for the murder of a prison guard together with Herman Wallace and Robert King, the so-called Angola 3. “Mr. Woodfox is being held in conditions that amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, if not torture,” the Special Rapporteur tells Amnesty, explaining that the conditions of his imprisonment, which involve spending 23 hours a day in an 8-foot-by-12 foot cell with no meaningful social interaction, inflict upon him “the kind of pain and suffering of a mental nature that is associated with torture.” The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about the fact that while Mr. Woodfox’s conviction has been overturned three times no meaningful review of his continued isolation has taken place, and added that Mr. Woodfox should be considered innocent until proven guilty and convicted. You can watch the Special Rapporteur discuss the case in this video, and read a press release issued by the Special Rapporteur in October 2013 on Mr. Woodfox’s case.

El Relator Especial difunde el informe sobre la visita a México

El Relator Especial difunde el informe sobre la visita a México

February 13, 2015 – El informe del Relator Especial sobre su visita a México en abril/mayo del 2014 ya se encuentra disponible en español, inglés y francés.
En el informe, el Relator Especial concluye, de manera alarmante, que la tortura es generalizada en México y, en general, llevada a cabo por policías municipales, estatales y federales, agentes ministeriales estatales y federales, y por las fuerzas armadas. Normalmente comienza desde que el sujeto es detenido hasta que es puesto a disposición de un juez y en la mayoría de los casos esta es utilizada como castigo o como parte de la investigación. Las salvaguardas son débiles y las condiciones de detención no siguen los estándares internacionales en materia de derechos humanos siendo el hacinamiento el principal problema. Es por esto que el Relator Especial recomendó al Gobierno de México un número de medidas a implementar y pidió a la comunidad internacional ayudar al Gobierno en su lucha para eliminar la tortura y los malos tratos, revertir la impunidad y garantizar la reparación integral de las víctimas.
Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez Interviewed by BBC HARDtalk

Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez Interviewed by BBC HARDtalk

February 4, 2015 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez gave a half-hour interview on BBC HARDtalk. During the interview, the Special Rapporteur discussed his experience as a young human rights lawyer in Argentina in the 1970s, when he was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured for his activities in defense of human rights and political prisoners. He also discusses the use of torture in the United States in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, explaining that the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques and other methods of torture, such as waterboarding, have aggravated the problem of terrorism, leading to the rise of new generations of terrorists. To listen to a podcast of the entire interview, please follow this link. A six minute video clip from the interview is also available here.

 

Guadalupe’s Pardon: UN Experts Urge El Salvador to Pardon All Women Jailed for Pregnancy Complications and Repeal Restrictive Abortion Law

Guadalupe’s Pardon: UN Experts Urge El Salvador to Pardon All Women Jailed for Pregnancy Complications and Repeal Restrictive Abortion Law

January 28, 2014 - Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez joined a group of other independent UN human rights experts to issue a statement urging El Salvador to repeal legislation which criminalises abortion in all circumstances. The statement explains that since 1997, El Salvador has had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, with abortion criminalized even when the woman’s life or health is at risk or in cases of rape or incest. The experts welcomed the recent decision to pardon Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana, who was convicted of aggravated homicide and sentenced to 30 years in prison in February 2008, after suffering a miscarriage at the age of 18 after reportedly being raped. While the experts welcomed the pardon as marking ”a turning point for the authorities to review the sentences against all women jailed for pregnancy-related complications,” they reiterated their concern that sanctions are being disproportionately imposed without due process in the cases of 17 other women in a similar situation, who are seeking pardons. “The total ban on abortion disproportionately affects women who are poor, the experts have stated, adding that  ”matters relating to an obstetric complication can sometimes mistakenly be considered as abortion.” They stressed that “El Salvador must comply with its international obligations and ensure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including maternal health care and access to all methods of modern contraception,” and that “[a]ccess to safe and legal abortion, at least when the pregnancy endangers the life or health of the woman; when it is the result of rape or incest, or in cases of severe fetal malformation must be ensured.” To read the press release in full, please visit the OHCHR website.