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

Tag Archives: Solitary confinement

DC Book Launch: “Hell is a very small place: voices from solitary confinement”

April 14, 2016 – The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has called the use of solitary confinement cruel and unusual punishment that is often tantamount to torture. Yesterday marked the DC launch of “Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement,” a new book that provides firsthand accounts from 16 current and formerly incarcerated people of what it is like to be kept completely alone in a small cell, often for years or decades on end—offering a perspective that should inform any debate about human rights and prison reform. United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez read excerpts from his piece, alongside other distinguished speakers.

The evening featured two of the book’s editors and two contributors who survived solitary confinement, as well as advocates reading from the work of contributors still in prison. Discussion and book signing followed the readings. This event was co-sponsored by the ACLU National Prison Project, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and Solitary Watch.

Albert Woodfox released from Louisiana State Penitentiary after more than four decades in solitary confinement

February 20, 2016 – This World Social Justice Day, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez, welcomes the release of Albert Woodfox from the Louisiana State Penitentiary after more than four decades in solitary confinement. Amnesty International USA has called the release “long overdue and undeniably just.”  United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez had previously strongly criticized the indefinite solitary confinement imposed on Mr. Woodfox, stating that it “clearly amounts to torture and it should be lifted immediately.”  To learn more, visit Amnesty International USA’s website here.

Special Rapporteur Interviews with LA NACION in Argentina

July 9, 2015 – In this Spanish language article, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez speaks with Argentine newspaper LaNacion about his work and obstacles that present themselves in the fight for a ‪#‎TortureFreeWorld‬, including state practices that do not conform to existing legal standards and public opinion.

“Before 2001 and the 9/11 attacks, there was a clear global consensus that the use of torture was immoral and inefficient. Today, pop culture, TV and cinema are conditioning us to accept torture as a necessary evil in the fight against terrorism. Until we recover a universal moral consensus against the use of torture, it will be very difficult to eradicate worldwide.”

The Special Rapporteur further emphasized the need for States to find a solution to prison overcrowding, to decriminalize certain minor offenses with a view to reducing the prison population, and to implement national preventive mechanisms against torture. By accepting the use of torture in prisons, the Special Rapporteur warned, we risk “destroying the fabric of our society.”

To read the full article in LANACION, please click here.

Legal Opinion to Brazilian Supreme Court: Solitary Confinement (Mendez 2013, in Portuguese)

Legal Opinion to Brazilian Supreme Court: Solitary Confinement (Mendez 2013, in English)

Observations Report (Mendez 2012)

Death Penalty – Thematic Report (Mendez 2012)

Solitary Confinement – Thematic Report (Mendez 2011)

Denmark – Country Visit Report (Nowak 2009)

Protection of Persons with Disabilities – Thematic Report (Nowak 2008)