[Ppnews] UN Torture Investigator Calls on Nations to End Solitary Confinement
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 19 13:20:39 EDT 2011
UN Torture Investigator Calls on Nations to End Solitary Confinement
October 19, 2011
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway
The UNs torture investigator, Juan Mendez,
yesterday called on UN members nations to ban
nearly all uses of solitary confinement in
prisons, warning that is causes serious mental
and physical harm and often amounts to torture.
Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment,
a written report on solitary confinement to the
UN General Assemblys Human Rights Committee,
which singled out for criticism the routine use
of supermax isolation in the United States. He
also gave a press conference and
in a forum with American civil rights and human rights groups.
reports, Mendez stated that solitary confinement
can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment or punishment when used as a
punishment, during pretrial detention,
indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for
persons with mental disabilities or juveniles.
He continued, Segregation, isolation,
separation, cellular, lockdown, supermax, the
hole, secure housing unit
whatever the name,
solitary confinement should be banned by states
as a punishment or extortion (of information) technique.
Mendez was precise in defining solitary
confinement, and in outlining the limitations
that should be placed on its use. He
I am of the view that juveniles, given their
physical and mental immaturity, should never be
subjected to solitary confinement. Equally, in
order not to exacerbate a previously existing
mental condition, individuals with mental
disabilities should be provided with proper
medical or psychiatric care and under no
circumstances should they ever be subjected to
solitary confinement. My recommendations are,
first, to see if we can have a complete ban on
prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement. And
I more or less arbitrarily defined that as
anything beyond 15 days of solitary confinement,
meaning someone being confined to a cell for at least 22 hours a day.
As Reuters reports, Mendez told reporters he
conceded that short-term solitary confinement was
admissible under certain circumstances, such as
the protection of lesbian, gay or bisexual
detainees or people who had fallen foul of prison
gangs. But he said there was no justification
for using it as a penalty, because thats an inhumane penalty.
Mendez made reference to the case of accused
WikiLeaker Bradley Manning, who spent after eight
months in solitary at a military brig in Virginia
before being moved to general population to await
court-martial. Mendez said he planned to issue a
report on Manning and other cases in the next few weeks.
Mendez also told reporters that he himself had
spent three days in solitary in the 1970s in his
native Argentina, then under military
dictatorship, and they were the three longest days in my life.
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