Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, U.N. Doc. A/66/268 (August 5, 2011).
This report was authored by Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations’ independent expert on torture and other ill treatment, and submitted to the U.N. General Assembly. It focuses on the issue of solitary confinement as practiced in many countries around the world.
“The Special Rapporteur draws the attention of the General Assembly to his assessment that solitary confinement is practised in a majority of States. He finds that where the physical conditions and the prison regime of solitary confinement cause severe mental and physical pain or suffering, when used as a punishment, during pre-trial detention, indefinitely, prolonged, on juveniles or persons with mental disabilities, it can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and even torture. In addition, the use of solitary confinement increases the risk that acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment will go undetected and unchallenged.
The report highlights a number of general principles to help to guide States to re-evaluate and minimize its use and, in certain cases, abolish the practice of solitary confinement. The practice should be used only in very exceptional circumstances, as a last resort, for as short a time as possible. He further emphasizes the need for minimum procedural safeguards, internal and external, to ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty are treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”
Keywords: international standards, international norms, human rights, long-term segregation, indefinite segregation, juvenile, persons with disabilities, disability, mental health, mental illness