with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment
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.

 

 

New Report: Observations on Communications With Governments and Replies Received Published

New Report: Observations on Communications With Governments and Replies Received Published

March 20, 2014 – The annual report containing the Special Rapporteur’s observations on communications with governments is now available. The report features the Special Rapporteur’s final observations on urgent appeals and allegation letters that he sent to Governments between December 1, 2012 and November 30, 2013. The Special Rapporteur’s observations refer to and comment on replies sent by States in response to his communications before January 31, 2014. Communications sent and responses received during the reporting period are accessible electronically through hyperlinks. The annual observations report is considered an important advocacy tool for civil society, victims, and other stakeholders, and the views expressed by the Special Rapporteur on the observations can be for advocacy purposes. The full report can be accessed here.

 

New Resolution on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Adopted by the General Assembly

New Resolution on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Adopted by the General Assembly

March 20, 2014 – The UN General Assembly Resolution adopted a new resolution on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment on December 18, 2013 in New York.  The Resolution recognized the Special Rapporteur’s reports and follow-up efforts, encouraging him to continue to include proposals on the prevention and investigation of torture and other ill-treatment in his recommendations, as well as to report on follow-up by States to his recommendations, visits, and other communications.  The Resolution also calls upon all States to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his tasks. The Resolution highlighted in particular the need for States to to supply all necessary information requested by the Special Rapporteur; to fully and expeditiously respond to and follow up on his urgent appeals; to give serious consideration to responding favourably to requests to visit their countries; and to enter into a constructive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on requested visits as well as with respect to the follow-up to his recommendations. The full text of the Resolution is available here.

Deadly Reprisals: UN Experts Deplore Events Leading to the Death of Chinese Human Rights Defender Cao Shunli, Ask For Full Investigation

Deadly Reprisals: UN Experts Deplore Events Leading to the Death of Chinese Human Rights Defender Cao Shunli, Ask For Full Investigation

March 18, 2014 – The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other independent human rights experts expressed their dismay over the death of Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli in hospital on March 14, 2014, and extended their sincere condolences to her family and friends. The experts noted that Ms. Cao was the subject of a public statement issued by them in October 2013, which was made pursuant to reports that Ms. Cao was detained because of her activities linked to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China, that her health gravely deteriorated in detention, and that authorities denied her the right to medical attention.  Additionally, a formal response from the Chinese authorities indicating that she had no serious health problems and had access to medical care was questioned by the experts. The experts now urge the Chinese authorities to investigate the circumstances leading to Ms. Cao’s death promptly, explaining that her death is a “tragic example of the results of criminalization of the activities of human rights defenders in China and reprisals against them” and stating that “it is unacceptable that civil society activists pay the ultimate price for peaceful and legitimate interaction with the United Nations and its human rights mechanisms.” To read the full press release, please visit the OHCHR website.