Wednesday News Updates

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we will post updates on ongoing cases of torture, new opinion pieces in the media, or news stories or issues that emerge.

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez condemned the practice of long-term solitary confinement as torture, and urged states to ban the practice. UN Photo by Jean-Marc Ferré

With all the excitement of our 26 June report and UN event, we are a little slow in getting the news updates on the blog. But thank you for your patience, and here they are.

Shortly after joining us for our panel discussion on rehabilitation of torture victims, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez called on countries to ban the use of prolonged solitary confinement and that the practice constituted torture:

“‘Solitary confinement is a harsh measure which is contrary to rehabilitation, the aim of the penitentiary system,’ he stressed in presenting his first interim report on the practice, calling it global in nature and subject to widespread abuse.”

We welcome the condemnation of this practice: IRCT Mecical Director Dr. Joost den Otter has also highlighted the damaging and inhumane side effects of both long and short term isolation.

Amnesty International published a conference report on the Gender and Torture conference in May of this year, co-hosted with REDRESS, a UK-based anti-torture and human rights organisation. Sundra, an IRCT legal officer and focus point for our women and girls projects, attended this conference, which focused on the gendered dimensions of torture.

Although this story has since been updated, we were highly disturbed by the news this morning that it seemed the U.S. was moving forward in selling arms to Bahrain, the Persian Gulf island nation that has been violently cracking down in dissidents and has faced countless allegations of torture and abuse. The Wall Street Journal has since updated that the sale is delayed for further review of Bahrain’s human rights abuses. President Obama had previously called on Bahrain to respect human rights. Keep a watch on this blog and our website for our further comment on this issue.

A prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas highlights detention practices, of Hamas, says The Guardian, and of all sides, argues Amnesty International. Hamas returned Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who has been held by Hamas since 2006; in exchange, Israel released over 400 prisoners.

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