UN Human Rights Experts (Again) Push for Access to U.S. Prisons, Call for Solitary Confinement Reform

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez, has repeatedly asked permission to visit U.S. prisons to report on solitary confinement and other prison conditions.

The United Nations’ top experts on the human rights of people in detention are calling on the United States to open the doors of its prisons to an official visit. Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Seong-Phil Hong, the Chairperson of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, made the request after President […]

UN’s “Mandela Rules” to Set New International Standards for Treatment of Prisoners, Including Limits on Solitary Confinement

The UN's new standards for the treatment of prisoners are named for Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years behind bars.

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) are being given several long-awaited revisions this year. Among them is a provision that solitary confinement “shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review.” The rules also prohibit […]

UN Committee on Torture Says U.S. Must Reform Its Use of Solitary Confinement

supermax2

On November 28, the United Nations Committee Against Torture released a 15 page report reviewing the United States’ compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). The report cites the excessive use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails as a violation of CAT, and […]

UN Committee on Torture Questions U.S. Record on Solitary Confinement

Members of the UN Committee on Torture question a U.S. delegation at a hearing in Geneva last week.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, United States government officials met with representatives at the United Nations to discuss the country’s compliance with the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Every country that is a signatory to the CAT is required to submit a “Periodic Report” to the […]

Voices from Solitary: Survivors Speak

A typical cell at Polunsky |Solitary confinement

 The American Friends Service Committee has a long history of advocating for the rights of the incarcerated, and against injustice and abuse in U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers. Recently, AFSC released a report called Survivors Speak: Prisoner Testimonies of Torture in United States Prisons and Jails. The document was prepared as a Shadow Report to the official U.S. […]

U.S. Government Tells UN Committee on Torture: “There Is No Systematic Use of Solitary Confinement in the United States”

Representatives of "civil society" have been asked to comment on a report stating that the U.S. does not torture.

Today, dozens of advocates will travel from around the country to Washington, DC, to take part in what are called “Civil Society Consultations” with representatives of the U.S. government on the subject of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). As a signatory of CAT, the […]

American Experts Urge British Not to Believe What They Hear About US Prison Conditions

The House of Lords is considering whether to recommend revisions to a US/UK extradition treaty that has landed British subjects in American supermax prisons.

In October 2012, five individuals were extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States to face terrorism charges. The transfer came after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that prison conditions at ADX Florence–where the suspects would likely be held if convicted–were not incompatible with Article 3 of the European Convention of […]

UN Investigator Says Long-Term Solitary Confinement in New York State Prisons Is Torture

A New York State SHU cell.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez has concluded that the state of New York violated the rights of three incarcerated men “to be free from torture” by locking them up them in long-term solitary confinement.  The findings, which were submitted to the UN Human Rights Council last month, were published alongside similar “observations” […]

Voices from Solitary: “Extradition”

talha family

Today we arrive in London, where on Thursday we will speak at a forum entitled “Extradited to a Future of Torture: The Reality of Solitary Confinement in America.” Hosted by the International State Crimes Initiative (ISCI) at Kings College London, the event features the premiere of a film made by the Yale Visual Law Project, The […]

At U.N. Prisoners’ Rights Meeting, U.S. Resists Limits on Solitary Confinement

un flag

David Fathi, who directs the ACLU’s National Prison Project and its Stop Solitary initiative, has been reporting from the U.N. Intergovernmental Expert Group Meeting on revising the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR), held last week in Buenos Aires. Fathi reported that the United States delegation proposed some “concrete and positive changes to the SMR”–but […]