UN Special Rapporteur calls for global rules for treatment of prisoners to be updated
New York, 30 October 2013 - The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, has called for a review of the universally accepted global principles and practices for the treatment of prisoners and management of penitentiary institutions, particularly decrying the use of solitary confinement.
"It is very important to prohibit solitary confinement to some categories under no circumstances, like minors, people with mental disability, women - especially women who are pregnant or feeding babies," said Méndez to journalists in New York last week.
He also emphasized the need to extend the application of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners for all places of deprivation of liberty, including mental hospitals and police stations.
These rules have been established for over 50 years and have considerable weight as an official set of globally accepted principles and practices for the treatment of prisoners and management of penitentiary institutions.
"It is rather obvious that, unless the rules are revised to adequately reflect the recent advances in international law and best practices, it is unlikely that penitentiary staff will look beyond what the current rules require", said Méndez.
He insisted that the rules must contain guidelines for the proper, independent and impartial investigation of all incidents of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in detention centers.
Méndez urged countries to continue involved with the Intergovernmental Group of Experts and consider the recommendations made in his report for the review of the rules, which will be the topic of the group's next meeting in January 2014 in Brazil.
* Credit: United Nations in Brazil - www.onu.org.br