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Ukraine: the SPT suspends its assessment mission

last updated May 28, 2016 On 25 May 2016, the SPT suspended its visit to Ukraine after being repeatedly denied access to detention facilities. Malcolm Evans, head of the delegation, stated: “This denial of access is in breach of Ukraine's obligations as a State party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. It has meant that we have not been able to visit some places where we have heard numerous and serious allegations that people have been detained and where torture or ill-treatment may have occurred […]”.

Ukraine: SPT assesses the situation of persons deprived from liberty

last updated May 24, 2016 From 19 to 26 May 2016, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) is visiting Ukraine to assess the situation of persons deprived of their liberty and the safeguards against torture and ill-treatment as a follow-up to its prior visit in 2011. At the same time, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, several human rights organisations supported by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights are trying to put the spotlight once again on the situation in the Donbass region. After the joint report „Surviving Hell“ of September 2015 on the alarming situation in that region, they report that torture is still widespread. Also, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) noted congruent findings. In its report on the human rights situation in Ukraine from March 2016, it outlined the particularly vulnerable situation in the Donbass: the “OHCHR continued to receive and verify allegations of killings, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, torture and ill-treatment […]“.

Romania: SPT concluded its country visit

last updated May 20, 2016 On 13 May 2016, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) concluded its country visit to Romania. The SPT recognised the progress in regard to prison conditions in Romania, and particularly highlighted the positive impact of the increased use of alternatives to detention in the pre-trial phase. The experts, however, urge for further adequate measures, especially to reduce overcrowding in places where people are deprived of their liberty. Additionally, the SPT recalls the importance of a well-funded and independent National Preventive Mechanism to ensure strong safeguards against torture and ill-treatment.

Sri Lanka: UNSRT urges critical changes to combat torture

last updated May 09, 2016 On 7 May 2016, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (UNSRT), Juan E. Mendez, and UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mónica Pinto, concluded their joint visit from 29 April to 7 May 2016 to Sri Lanka. After more than 30 years of armed conflict, the two UN experts assessed the recent situation and remaining challenges regarding torture and other forms of ill-treatment as well as the independence of lawyers and judges on the invitation of the Sri Lankan government. Despite positive trends in the country, the UNSRT outlined that "[…] sadly the practice of interrogation under physical and mental coercion still exists and severe forms of torture, albeit probably in less frequent instances, continues to be used." In addition, impunity for the perpetrators, poor conditions of detention facilities as well as procedural shortcomings in trials still cause severe challenges. In his preliminary observations and recommendations, Juan E. Mendez called on the Sri Lankan government to adopt urgent measures to ensure its international human rights obligations as well as to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.

SPT: Annual Report highlights the situation of LGBTI persons in detention

last updated May 02, 2016 On 28 April 2016, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) has released its annual report for 2015. The SPT highlights the specific vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in detention. When deprived of their liberty, LGBTI persons are at a higher risk of ill-treatment and torture; the SPT therefore recommends specific measures to States to strengthen the protection of LGBTI persons and prevent abuses against them.

Burundi: Growing use of torture, imprisonment and enforced disappearances

last updated Apr 28, 2016 On 25 April 2016, Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced the start of a preliminary examination into the ongoing crisis in Burundi. A crisis that escalated after the re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza for the third time in April 2015 that many claimed to be unconstitutional. In the aftermath of the elections, the police seemed to have used excessive and partly lethal force. Over the last year, the ICC reviewed numerous reports and communications referring to “acts of killings, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence as well as cases of enforced disappearances.” Based on the examination of the information available, the Prosecutor will decide whether there is a legal and factual basis for an investigation before the Court.

Earlier this month, Zeid Ra´ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, already underlined the gravity of the situation in Burundi. He raised major concerns about the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment. Additionally, the High Commissioner disclosed worrying reports about secret detention facilities across the country. According to observations on the spot, he reported at least 345 cases of torture and ill-treatment for just this year. Reportedly, the abuses “mainly take place at the time of arrest, upon arrival or during detention, especially in facilities run by the Service national de renseignements (SNR), the police and, to a lesser extent, the army.” At the same time, rebel groups and unidentified armed individuals also increasingly conduct targeted attacks and cause causalities in Burundi. Overall, the situation in the country remains fragile. To ease the acute conflict, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, nominated as the mediator in the dialogue, announced to resume stalled talks from 2 - 6 May in Arusha.

Upcoming consultation workshop for judges: strengthening cooperation in criminal matters between the judiciary and National Preventive Mechanisms

last updated Apr 19, 2016 On 21 and 22 April 2016, a consultation workshop for EU judges will take place at the Conference Centre of the Academy of European Law (ERA) in Trier within the framework of the EU-funded project on “Strengthening cooperation between the judiciary and torture monitoring bodies in the European Union”.

The project, carried out by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) in cooperation with ERA, intends to increase the cooperation between the judiciary and National Preventive Mechanisms with the aim to improve the rights of detainees within the EU through a more fundamental rights compliant implementation of EU law.

From BIM, Tiphanie Crittin, Gerrit Zach and Moritz Birk will present the main findings of the project´s Baseline Study. Several speakers will participate in the exchange and share their expertise with the participants, such as Mari Amos (UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture), Dr. Jonas Grimheden (EU Agency for Fundamental Rights), Dr. Anton van Kalmthout (EU Committee for the Prevention of Torture) or Dr. Nina Marx (Judge at the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Bremen).

France: „ Double punishment“ for persons with psychosocial disabilities in detention

last updated Apr 13, 2016 On 5 April 2016, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published its report on „Inadequate conditions for Prisoners with Psychosocial Disabilities in France“. It emphasises that the punitive effect of detention is even hardened in numerous cases for persons with mental health conditions. In general, the number of prisoners with psychosocial disabilities in France is amounting to thousands of detainees. These persons often face stigma and differential treatment in detention. Besides a deficient training for prison guards, the mental health care system is insufficient and of poor quality according to the report. Additionally, persons with mental health conditions are frequently hospitalised if their health situation worsens, with and even without their consent. There, they again face isolation and discrimination due to their status as prisoners. HRW brings up that women with psychosocial disabilities are in an even harsher situation. They often have less freedom of movement and a more limited access to health care.

Amnesty International: Annual survey report on executions 2015

last updated Apr 08, 2016 On 6 April 2016, Amnesty International (AI) published its annual survey report on the death penalty. The total number of executions in 2015 has augmented to at least 1.634 from 1.061 in 2014; the highest number in the last 25 years. Not included in this data are even the figures from China since this information is dealt as a State secret. Experts believe that China remained the „world´s top executor“ by carrying out thousands of executions per year. According to AI, 89 % of the reported executions confine to just three countries: Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. While the numbers of execution raised by more than 50%, the trend towards abolition still continued as well. Four countries have banned the death penalty for all crimes in 2015, namely Madagascar, Suriname, Fiji and the Republic of Congo.

Indonesia: HRW reports abuses and harmful practices against persons with psychosocial disabilities

last updated Mar 23, 2016 On 21 March 2016, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its report “Living in Hell: Abuses against People with Psychosocial Disabilities in Indonesia”. The report discloses that persons with mental health conditions still face arbitrary detention as well as outlawed harmful practices, including pasung, i.e. chaining and confinement of a person. Additionally, those in health care centres and other institutions are at risk of involuntary treatment and abuses. HRW acknowledges the steps taken by the government, but at the same time, calls on the Indonesian government to fully comply with its international obligations, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as to ensure and more strictly monitor the implementation of the existing laws.

International Women's Day: UNSRT publishes report on gender perspectives on torture

last updated Mar 07, 2016 On 8 March, International Women's Day, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (UNSRT) publishes his thematic report on the gender perspectives on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The report analyses in the light of the existing international documents against torture, the particular situation of women, girls and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex persons (LGBTI); an approach that was lacking for some time, he said in the report. The Special Rapporteur addresses a wide range of issues in his report including sexual and domestic violence, harmful practices such as FGM or forced marriage, as well as human trafficking and the challenges in regard to the health-care and criminal justice systems. On 8 March, the UNSRT will present the report to the Human Rights Council. The presentation and the Interactive Dialogue with the States will be broadcasted live under http://webtv.un.org/.

Greece: CPT published report on country visit

last updated Mar 01, 2016 On 1 March, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published the report of its ad hoc visit in April 2015 to Greece, together with the response of the Greek authorities. The visit focused on the implementation of former CPT recommendations, mainly concerning police ill-treatment, prison conditions and the treatment of juveniles in custody. In its report, the CPT concluded that ill-treatment by law enforcement authorities is still a widespread problem. At the same time, it noted that the necessary safeguards against abuses (e.g. notification of custody, access to a lawyer and access to a doctor) lack proper implementation. Also, the investigations of alleged ill-treatments are often ineffective. Additionally, the delegation called for urgent steps against overcrowding, the poor prison health care services and the overall alarming situation in Greek prisons. In this regard, the CPT welcomed the emergency and long-term measures planned by the Greek authorities to address these systematic problems.

New Practical Guide: Monitoring places where children are deprived of liberty

last updated Feb 25, 2016 On 15 February, Defence for Children International (DCI), leading organisation within the framework of the project Children´s Rights Behind Bars, officially presented their new monitoring guidebook. This innovative tool, to which the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute contributed over the last two years, includes a preventive and child-sensitive approach and is “the very first European Practical Guide dedicated to the monitoring of places of deprivation of liberty for children”, according to DCI. It is available for free in English and in French.

Egypt: Ordered closure of the torture rehabilitation centre

last updated Feb 19, 2016 On 17 February 2016, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that the Egyptian authorities ordered - due to license violations - to close the El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture; a center providing medical care and counseling to victims as well as reporting about torture and ill-treatment in police custody. Center representatives raised objection against the administrative decision that doesn’t provide any reasons for the closure, according to Aida Seif al-Dawla, one of the founders. The closure, therefore, is postponed to 22 February 2016, when center representatives will meet with the Ministry of Health to discuss reasons behind the order. “Closing the Nadeem Center would be a devastating blow to Egypt’s human rights movement as well as victims of abuse” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East director, said.

Sweden: CPT concludes country visit

last updated Feb 19, 2016 From 18 to 28 May 2015, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) visited Sweden. It released - on request of the Swedish Government - the report of the periodic country visit on 17 February 2016. The primary aim was to review the developments since the previous visits with a focus on the safeguards against ill-treatment in police custody and restrictions used against prisoners on remand: In its report, the CPT recalled the importance of systematic and professional medical examination as well as the comprehensive right to information to prevent ill-treatment in police establishments. Additionally, it emphasised that “there are no real signs of progress as regards the widespread imposition of restrictions on remand prisoners”. The delegation also visited forensic psychiatric establishments, high security prisons and immigration detention centres and made a number of additional recommendations.

Syria: UN Commission releases report on deaths and torture in detention

last updated Feb 11, 2016 On 8 February 2016, the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Syrian Arab Republic released a new report on mass deaths and widespread torture in official and makeshift detention facilities. According to the Commission, thousands of detainees were killed in custody between March 2011 and November 2015. In its report, it accused the Syrian government of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including systematic and widespread murder, rape, extermination, torture in the detention centres, as well as arbitrary imprisonment and enforced disappearances. Not less severe are the charges against non-governmental armed groups and terrorist organisations. The Commission states that the situation of detainees “represents an urgent and large-scale crisis of human rights protection” and calls for accurate steps to end these massive human rights violations. For the report, the Commission conducted 621 interviews and relied on expanded documentary material, since the Syrian government repeatedly denied it access to the territory.

UN: International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

last updated Feb 04, 2016 Every year, 6 February is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a painful and sometimes lethal practice involving the cutting of female genitalia, and violating a range of rights of women and girls. FGM interferes inter alia with their right to health, security and physical integrity, as well as the right to be free from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. To set an end to FGM, it is necessary to promote the agenda on an international as well as on a grass-root level with a focus on human rights and gender equality. “These efforts should emphasise societal dialogue and the empowerment of communities to act collectively to end the practice”, stated the UN.

Cyprus: UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture concludes country visit

last updated Feb 04, 2016 From 25 to 29 January, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) visited Cyprus. All in all, the delegation noted, progress in the treatment of detainees has been observed. However, Cyprus “[…] still faces several challenges, particularly regarding the independent monitoring of places of detention and the treatment of migrants” according to the SPT. It recalled that immigration detention must be applied restrictively and that it has to be seen as a last resort. Additionally, the delegation stated that the Cypriot monitoring body (the National Preventive Mechanism) needed a better financing and a stronger legal position to enable it to implement its mandate properly.

USA: Changes in juvenile offenders’ rights

last updated Jan 28, 2016 On 25 January 2016, US president Barack Obama announced a ban on confinement in isolation for juveniles in federal prisons. He highlighted that “The United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance.” Meanwhile, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed its judgment Miller v Alabama (2012) and stated that the abolishment of mandatory juvenile life imprisonments without the possibility of release has to be applied retroactively also for persons sentenced before 2012; a practice that has already been applicable in certain, but not all US states. Human Rights Watch (HRW) welcomed the judgment but recalled that still a lot more has to be done to adequately ensure juvenile offenders’ rights appropriate to their maturity.

Syria: HRW reports widespread torture and ill-treatment in government detention facilities

last updated Dec 18, 2015 On 16 December 2015, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has published a report on mass deaths and torture in detention facilities of the Syrian government. For the report HRW examined the so-called 'Caesar photographs' smuggled out of Syria by a military defector and interviewed relatives and friends, former detainees and defectors. According to HRW the photographs show at least 6,786 deaths in or immediately after custody and reveal "evidence of widespread torture, starvation, beatings, and disease in Syrian government detention facilities."

Iran: Juvenile offenders re-sentenced to death

last updated Dec 16, 2015 On 8 December, Amnesty International (AI) reported that the death penalty for two young men was renewed for crimes which they committed as juveniles. According to AI “Iran cemented its shameful status as the world’s top official executioner of juvenile offenders” as it continues to impose the death penalty for crimes committed by minors and postponing the execution until the offenders reach 18 years. On 11 and 12 January 2016 Iran is going to be reviewed by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Committee has already raised its concerns about Iran´s continuous practice to sentence juvenile offenders to death.

Mongolia: New Criminal Code abolishes death penalty

last updated Dec 16, 2015 On 3 December, the Mongolian Parliament voted in favour for a new Criminal Code that abolishes the death penalty for all crimes. The new law will come into force in September 2016 and Mongolia would then become the 105th State abolishing the death penalty in law. This step was greatly welcomed by the UN and human rights organisations.

SPT announces visiting agenda for 2016

last updated Nov 30, 2015 On 25 November 2015, the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) announced its visiting agenda for 2016. During the first half it will visit Chile, Cyprus, Romania, Tunisia and Ukraine and the second half Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Mexico, Mozambique and Niger. According to the Chairperson, Malcom Evans this is the SPT's "most extensive programme of visits to date".

Bahrain: NGOs report about continuing torture of detainees

last updated Nov 25, 2015 On 22 November, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on torture and ill-treatment in Bahrain. The report comes four years after the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) released its report and recommendations to prevent such practices. HRW and other national and international human rights organisations argue that most recommendations still have not been implemented and that the established complaints and investigation mechanisms lack independence and transparency. As a consequence, they observe, detainees still face torture by security forces during interrogations and impunity prevails.

China: Committee against Torture considered report amid NGO criticism

last updated Nov 20, 2015 On 18 November, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) examined the report of China including Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions. Human Rights organisations raised their voice before the review. Human Rights Watch recognised that several reforms in the criminal justice system took place, but Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, highlighted that “torture remains a daily reality in China” and called for an open discussion at the review. Meanwhile the Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported of reprisals against activists requesting information concerning the report.

Hungary: CPT examines detention of foreign nationals

last updated Oct 30, 2015 From 21 to 27 October 2015, a delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) carried out an ad hoc visit to Hungary to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of foreign nationals deprived of their liberty. In Hungary foreign nationals may be detained under aliens legislation or the recently amended criminal legislation establishing a criminal defence for crossing or damaging the border fence. The delegation visited detention centres for foreigners, police detention facilities, a prison and the two “transit zones” located at the border with Serbia. They met with representatives from the state, international orgaisations as well as civil society organisations.

Mexico: AI releases report on continuing “torture epidemic”

last updated Oct 29, 2015 On 23 October, Amnesty International (AI) published a new report “Paper Promises, Daily Impunity. Mexico´s torture epidemic continues” disclosing that the number of complaints by torture victims has increased while impunity still protects the perpetrators. The relevance of the initiative of the recent drafting of a new General Law on torture is recognised. At the same time AI recalls the importance of effective implementation and monitoring to avoid that this bill “remains one more good intention on paper”.

Czech Republic: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights raises major concerns on the detention of migrants and refugees

last updated Oct 29, 2015 On 22 October, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra´ad Al Hussein, criticised the detention conditions and detention policy of the Czech Republic towards migrants and refugees. He expressed his concerns on the violations of human rights of migrants especially of rights of the child. Despite some recent improvements of the “completely unacceptable” conditions in the detention centre Bělá-Jezová, which were revealed last week by the Czech ombudsman, “the basic approach has not changed”, Zeid states.

Australia: Medical bodies call for the ratification of the OPCAT

last updated Oct 16, 2015 On 16 October 2015, eighteen of the main health bodies of Australia issued a joint statement urging the Australian Government to ratify the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). The health bodies said current systems of oversight of detention centres were failing, and needed urgent strengthening

Kazakhstan: Human rights groups and former UN Special Rapporteur urge to end torture

last updated Oct 16, 2015 On 13 October, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, together with representatives from the International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KIBHR) and the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) met governmental officials in Astana and urged them to promptly implement the recommendations of the UN Committee against Torture from 2014.

Turkey: Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture concludes advisory visit

last updated Oct 13, 2015 From 6 to 9 October 2015, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) visited Turkey to advise the country on setting up its National Preventive Mechanism. In January 2014, Turkey has designated its National Human Rights Institute as NPM but still needs to adopt "a specific law that provides the NPM with a strong mandate and makes it fully operational, functional, independent and well-resourced”, according to the SPT.

UN Committee against Torture: election of five new members

last updated Oct 09, 2015 On 8 October 2015, the UN Committee against Torture elected five new members to take up their position in 2016 for a period of four years. The new members are: Ms. Felice Gaer (United States of America), Mr. Abdelwahab Hani (Tunisia), Ms. Ana Racu (Moldova), Mr. Claude Heller Rouassant (Mexico), Mr. Sébastien Touzé (France).

UN launches 'Mandela Rules' on the treatment of prisoners

last updated Oct 08, 2015 On 7 October, the United Nations launched the Revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, called 'Nelson Mandela Rules'. At a high-level presentation in New York, the UN Secretray General welcomed the Mandela Rules as "a great step forward" while also drawing attention to some areas that would need to be strengthened.

Ghana: Special Rapporteur on Torture presents preliminary findings after follow-up visit

last updated Oct 08, 2015 On 7 October, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, presented his preliminary findings to the follow-up visit to Ghana. The four day visit followed up his official mission to the country from 8 to 14 November 2013. Mr. Mendez has welcomed Ghana for the steps taken to combat torture while saying that much remains to be done.

Ghana: Special Rapporteur on Torture conducts follow-up visit

last updated Oct 05, 2015 From 4 to 7 October 2015 the UN Special Rapportuer on Torture (UNSRT), Juan Méndez, carries out a follow-up visit to Ghana to discuss and assess the implementation of his recommendations issued after his mission in November 2013.

Brazil: Discussion on lowering the age at which juveniles can be prosecuted as adults from 18 to 16 years

last updated Jul 06, 2015 Human rights organisations raise their concerns on the call of Eduardo Cunha, President of the Brazilian House of Representatives, to revote on the proposal to lower the age at which juveniles can be prosecuted as adults from 18 to 16 years.

Europe: Conditions in immigration detention centres may amount to inhuman treatment - UN reminds States of their international obligations

last updated Jun 29, 2015 UN experts remind States of their obligations to guarantee international human rights standards also for migrants. At the same time, Amnesty International (AI) reports of conditions in immigrantion detention facilities that are significantly falling “below international and national standards and may amount to inhuman or degrading treatment.”

International Day in Support of Victims against Torture: BIM publishes study on enhancing impact of NPMs in the EU

last updated Jun 26, 2015 On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) and the Human Rights Implementation Centre at the University of Bristol (HRIC) publish their study on enhancing the impact of torture prevention mechanisms operating in the EU, which highlights the need for a strategic, impact-oriented approach to strengthen follow-up on their recommendations.

United States: Police use of lethal force does not fulfil international standards

last updated Jun 22, 2015 A new report by Amnesty International discloses shortcomings of the authorities of the United States in the implementation of international standards regarding the use of lethal forces by the police.

Cameroon: 84 children illegally detained for six months

last updated Jun 22, 2015 Amnesty International reports of 84 children who are illegally detained for six months. They were arrested in the course of a school raid by Cameroon's authorities where several teachers were accused of running terrorist training camps.

Uzbekistan: Amnesty International reports of "pervasive and endemic use of torture to intimidate and humiliate the few human rights defenders left in Uzbekistan"

last updated Jun 15, 2015 Amnesty International urges UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to reassert Uzbekistan's obligations under international human rights law in order to fight torture and other human rights abuses.

Torture is widespread and systematic in Eritrea according to the UN Commission of Inquiry

last updated Jun 09, 2015 The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea reports that torture, disappearances, forces labour, sexual violence and extrajudicial executions are widespread and sysemtatic in Eritrea.

United States: New bill could reduce the number of children sentenced as adults

last updated Jun 09, 2015 A new bill which would reduce the number of children deprived of liberty in the adult criminal justice system is up for vote in Florida's full Senate and House.

SPT urges Guatemala to improve its independent monitoring of detention conditions

last updated May 26, 2015 The Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) presented its preliminary observations to the Guatemalan authorities and called for the improvement of independent monitoring bodies.

The UN Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners were finally passed at the CCPCJ

last updated May 26, 2015 The UN Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners were revised at the 24th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna and are now to be named "Mandela Rules" in honour of former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela.

Pakistan: Supreme Court suspended all executions imposed by military courts

last updated May 11, 2015 UN human rights experts welcome the judgement of the Pakistani Supreme Court to suspend all executions imposed by military courts. The system of military courts was established to fight terrorism by the Pakistani authorities but has been heavily criticised since then for its lack of compliance with international human rights standards.

Azerbaijan: The SPT concluded its monitoring visit, which had been suspended in September 2014

last updated May 11, 2015 From 16 to 24 April 2015, the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) conducted a monitoring visit to Azerbaijan. The original visit was planned for September 2014 but had to be suspended due to a lack of cooperation by the Azerbaijani authorities.

United States: The American Psychological Association allegedly cooperated with the Bush administration to justify torture methods

last updated May 11, 2015 A group of health professionals and human rights activists published a new report, in which they accuse the American Psychological Association (A.P.A.) of secretly collaborating with the US Government under former President George W. Bush to enable the authorities to argue that their “enhanced interrogation methods” programme in the "War on Terror" did not constitute torture.

Zimbabwe: Brutal police beatings show “a complete disregard for the rule of law and a culture of impunity,” states Amnesty International

last updated Apr 20, 2015 Brutal police beatings of peaceful protesters in Harare demonstrating against xenophobic violence in South Africa show “a complete disregard for the rule of law and a culture of impunity” by the Zimbabwean polices forces, stated Amnesty International (AI). AI therefore urges the Zimbabwean authorities to respect people’s rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Uzbekistan: AI stated „torture is rampant“

last updated Apr 17, 2015 As part of its campaign “stop torture”, Amnesty International (AI) published a new report on the situation in Uzbekistan stating that “torture is rampant” and part of the system.

Ukraine: AI found evidence of summary executions by pro-Russian armed groups while a pro-Russian fighter claimed he “shot 15 prisoners dead”

last updated Apr 13, 2015 Amnesty International (AI) reported that they received footage of extrajudicial killings of several Ukrainian soldiers by armed rebel groups in the Donbass region. At the same time, a Russian fighter confessed the killings 15 Ukrainian prisoners.

Spain: CPT examined the treatment of irregular migrants in Melilla and two detention centres for foreigners

last updated Apr 13, 2015 The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published a report on its latest visiting mission to Spain together with the response of the Spanish authorities. The report focuses on the treatment of irregular migrants deprived of liberty on Spanish territory and shows several grievances.

Bangladesh: Security services proposed amendments to limit the protection against torture

last updated Apr 09, 2015 Bangladeshi security services proposed to amend the Torture and Custodial Death Prohibition and Prevention Act 2013. The proposed changed would defeat the very purpose of the Act and would be a violation of the UN Convention against Torture (CAT), ratified in 1998, according to the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) and the organisation Odhikar.

Italy condemned for acts amounting to torture during the G8 summit of 2001

last updated Apr 09, 2015 Italy condemned under article 3 ECHR: the European Court of Human Rights just found that ill-treatment committed by the Italian police in the Diaz-Pertini school amounted to ‘torture’ and that Italian criminal legislation concerning the punishment of acts of torture is inadequate.

Zimbabwe: Human rights activist and regime dissident Itai Dzamara still missing

last updated Apr 02, 2015 The human rights activist and regime dissident Itai Dzamara was kidnapped on 9 March, allegedly by Zimbabwean state forces, and remains missing since then. Human rights groups, the European Union as well as the United States are demanding his immediate release and are deeply concerned about his physical and psychological integrity.

Pakistan: UN reports of 48 people executed in the last 4 months and 8000 who remain on death row

last updated Mar 23, 2015 Since December 2014, when Pakistan’s authorities reversed the death penalty moratorium, 48 people were executed. 8000 people still remain on death row, including several hundreds who were convicted for crimes committed as juveniles. UN experts criticised this practice as a violation of several international human rights treaties to which Pakistan is legally bound . Last week, Muhammad Afza, who reportedly was 16 at the time of the offense, was executed despite interventions by human rights groups.

Georgia: UNSRT presents preliminary findings of the latest country visit: positive accomplishments in the treatment of prisoners since the October 2012 parliamentary election

last updated Mar 23, 2015 Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (UNSRT), presented his preliminary findings of his latest country visit to Georgia.

UNSRT: “Detention of children is inextricably linked with ill-treatment”

last updated Mar 18, 2015 The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture presented to the Human Rights Council his latest thematic report on juveniles in detention, in which he concludes that “the detention of children is inextricably linked – in fact if not in law – with the ill-treatment of children, owing to the particularly vulnerable situation in which they have been placed that exposes them to numerous types of risk.”

Afghanistan: Number of detainees tortured or ill-treated decreased by 14 % in last two years

last updated Mar 02, 2015 The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a new report on the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, in which it welcomed a decrease of 14% in the practice of torture and ill-treatment compared to the previous reporting period two years ago. However, further steps need to be done since one third of the Afghanistan’s detainees are still exposed to torture and ill-treatment.

Bahamas: Migrants detained under inhuman conditions of detention

last updated Feb 24, 2015 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) examined reports on the treatment of detainees at the main immigration detention centre on the Bahamas and concluded that the detention conditions under which people are deprived of liberty amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Syria: Torture still widespread and systematic and used by all sides

last updated Feb 24, 2015 The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, urged the Syrian authorities to immediately take steps to end the continuing use of torture by Syrian security forces. Amnesty International (AI) also voiced their concern about the systematic use of torture by Syrian opposition armed groups including ISIS.

Australia: Human Rights Commission criticises detention of migrant children

last updated Feb 17, 2015 The Australian Human Rights Commission published a report on children in immigration detention, in which it criticised the Australian government for its constant failure to adequately adopt international standards in the treatment of detained children of migrants and asylum seekers.

Iran: Juvenile offender to be executed after conviction based on evidence obtained under torture

last updated Feb 17, 2015 Amnesty International accuses the Iranian authorities of violating human rights law by executing the now 22-year old Saman Naseem. He was convicted for taking part in armed activities against the state, a crime which he was forced to confess under torture when he was 17 years old.

Iraq: Children tortured, abused and mass-executed by ISIS

last updated Feb 09, 2015 In the beginning of February, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) published its Concluding Observations on the treatment of children in Iraq and accused the militant forces of the so-called ISIS to systematically abuse, torture and kill children.

Philippines: “Wheel of torture” as part of the endemic torture routine

last updated Feb 02, 2015 Amnesty International (AI) reports about the “wheel of torture”, which was discovered in a secret detention centre in the Philippines and used by police officers for their own “torture show”. It is one of the latest discoveries in the endemic practice of torture and ill-treatment on detainees by the Philippines’ authorities.

USA: “Guantánamo Diary“ exposes daily ill-treatment of detainees

last updated Jan 19, 2015 After a six-year struggle with the US-authorities, Mohamedou Ould Slahi published his book “Guantánamo Diary” in which he describes his daily life at Guantánamo prison. Mohamedou, who is still detained at Guantánamo, exposes the excessive use of force and ill-treatment by security guards and reveals details of his own torture experiences.

Saudi Arabia: Blogger Raif Badawi publicly flogged

last updated Jan 13, 2015 On 9 January, Raif Badawi, a 30-year old blogger from Saudi Arabia was flogged 50 times in front of a mosque in Jeddah for establishing an online platform to promote political and religious discussions.

30th Anniversary of the UN Convention against Torture

last updated Dec 10, 2014 The 10 December 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Convention has currently 156 ratifications, and is considered as one of the core international human rights treaties.

United States: Long-awaited release of CIA’s torture report

last updated Dec 10, 2014 The long expected report about the CIA’s torture methods of the Senate Intelligence Committee was published on Tuesday. The US authorities were therefore stepping up their security measures in US facilities around the world to prevent possible security attacks, which they fear as a reaction on the report.

Morocco: Accession to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture

last updated Dec 01, 2014 Morocco acceded to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) on 24 November 2014 and became its 76th State party. The State, which was visited by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez in 2012, will assign to the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) the National Preventive Mechanism under OPCAT. With the accession to OPCAT Morocco is one of the pioneers in the region of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the fourth State party, after Lebanon, Tunisia and Mauritania.

United States: Committee against Torture criticised excessive use of force and police brutality

last updated Dec 01, 2014 The Committee against Torture published its Concluding Observations on the situation of torture and ill-treatment in the United States. In light of the recent incidents of police shootings, the Committee criticised the numerous reports of police brutality and excessive use of force by police forces.

UAE: Government dismissed Amnesty International’s torture report as “one-sided and inaccurate”

last updated Nov 24, 2014 Amnesty International (AI) released a new report in which it accuses the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and torture of its political critics. In turn, the government rejects the report as “one-sided and inaccurate”.

Austria: Ex-police officers convicted for torture state „we are the victims“

last updated Nov 22, 2014 In 2006, four policemen were found to have tortured an asylum seeker, Mr. Bakary J., after he forcefully resisted his deportation. They were sentenced to eight and six months imprisonment. Bakary J. is now seeking compensation money for his suffering as torture victim. Parallel to this, three of the four police officers are requesting to reopen the case because of newly discovered “discrepancies”.

Philippines: Zero convictions under the Anti-Torture Act since 2009 despite constant allegations of torture and ill-treatment

last updated Nov 19, 2014 In 2009, the Anti-Torture Act was passed by the Government of the Philippines, a landmark for the recognition of human rights in the country according to several international human rights organisations. For the first time, the Philippine legislation encompassed a law which constitutes torture as a separated crime and provides regulations to adequately redress victims of torture and other ill-treatment.

Gambia: UN Special Rapporteurs prevented from investigating in Gambia’s detention facilities

last updated Nov 19, 2014 Two UN Special Rapporteurs conducted their first visit to Gambia. Although they followed an invitation of the Gambian Government, they were prevented from completing their fact-finding mission due to denied access to a prison facility.

HRC: General Comment No.35 on Article 9 liberty and security of person published

last updated Nov 03, 2014 The Human Rights Committee (HRC) published its new General Comment on Article 9 the right to liberty and security of person of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In its General Comment No.35, the HRC discussed several issues related to Article 9 including, amongst others, the definition of arbitrary detention, procedural safeguards, detention in armed conflicts, and the states duty’s regarding persons deprived of liberty.

United States: 80.000 people detained in solitary confinement

last updated Oct 20, 2014 Amnesty International (AI) reported that at any given time approximately 80.000 people are detained in solitary confinement in the prison facilities of the United States (US). AI stated that no other country is known to keep more detainees in isolation.

Austria: Authorities fail to adequately investigate and respond to ill-treatment of detainees

last updated Oct 20, 2014 The Austrian newspaper Falter published an article in which it accuses the Austrian authorities to repeatedly fail to adequately investigate and respond to several cases of ill-treatment of detainees by prison staff including the case of the 74-year old mentally challenged detainee who was neglected for months until the prison guards noticed a decay scent.

Germany: Footage shows “pictures that we only know from Guantanamo”

last updated Sep 29, 2014 Several newspapers reported the abusive and inhuman treatment of asylum seekers by security forces in refugee homes in Germany. Chief of Police Frank Richter stated that “these are pictures that we only know from Guantanamo”.

China: Trade of potential torture equipment booms

last updated Sep 29, 2014 Amnesty International (AI) published a new report in which it described the increasing trade of Chinese law enforcement equipment that is inherently inhuman and cruel and should therefore be banned. The report “China’s Trade in Tools of Torture and Repression” details the flourishing and lucrative manufacture and export of potential torture tools by Chinese companies and its use worldwide.

Eritrea: HRC announces members of Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea

last updated Sep 29, 2014 In June 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council established a Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. Last week, the appointment of the members of the Commission, namely Mike Smith, Victor Dankwa and Sheila Keetharuth was announced by the President of the Human Rights Council.

Nigeria: Torture is “an integral part of policing in Nigeria“

last updated Sep 22, 2014 Amnesty International (AI) published a new report of the alarming situation of the routine use of torture and ill-treatment by security forces and stated that torture is “an integral part of policing in Nigeria.“

Azerbaijan: UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture suspends visit

last updated Sep 22, 2014 The OHCHR reported that the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), while conducting its monitoring visit to Azerbaijan, faced official obstruction to such an extent that it decided to suspend the visit.

Mexico: Torture and ill-treatment increased by 600% in the last decade

last updated Sep 15, 2014 Amnesty International (AI) released a new report drawing an alarming conclusion about torture and ill-treatment in Mexico. According to AI, reported cases of torture and ill-treatment rose by 600% over the past decade. However, impunity remained unimproved and only seven perpetrators have ever been convicted in federal courts.

China: Human rights defender Gao Zisheng released from prison, but in need of medical treatment

last updated Sep 03, 2014 Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was finally released from prison after years of detention but is still under surveillance by the Chinese authorities. According to his wife, he is in poor health due to inadequate detention conditions, and in urgent need of medical care.

Syria: UN report accuses the Syrian government and ISIS of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity

last updated Aug 29, 2014 A UN Commission released a report in which it accuses the Syrian government as well as the Islamist militant group ISIS, which seeks to establish a cross-border caliphate, of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and urges the UN Security Council to bring them before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Egypt: 1150 protesters killed by police forces

last updated Aug 19, 2014 Human Rights Watch (HRW) accuses the Egyptian authorities of massive human rights violations referring to six demonstrations against the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsy in July and August 2013 in which at least 1150 people were killed by the police forces. Incidents which - according to HRW- can be considered crimes against humanity.

Philippines: Fight against the impunity of security forces

last updated Aug 19, 2014 In 2011, former Major General Jovito Palparan was indicted for torture, abduction and enforced disappearances and has now been arrested in Philippines’ capital Manila. According to Amnesty International (AI), the detention of Palparan is a positive sign that the Philippines’ authorities are finally starting to end the impunity of security forces who committed human rights violations.

Brazil: Widespread torture by security forces continues despite reforms

last updated Aug 01, 2014 Human Rights Watch (HRW) released an article, in which it highlights that despite important reforms the Brazilian government still has to implement more effective measures to combat torture. HRW found evidence of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by security forces or prison authorities in 64 cases since 2010.

United States: Prisoners detained in extreme solitary confinement

last updated Jul 21, 2014 Amnesty International (AI) accuses the US government of violating international law by detaining prisoners over prolonged duration in solitary confinement in the so-called Administrative Maximum facility near Florence, Colorado, a prison known as ADX Florence.

Libya: Detained migrants tortured and ill-treated

last updated Jun 30, 2014 Human Rights Watch (HRW) found evidence that security forces under the Libyan government regularly tortured and ill-treated migrant prisoners, including with severe beatings and electric shocks in several detention facilities. Amnesty International (AI) reported of migrants being subjected to arbitrary arrest, and denied access to information or medical care. Both organisations call the Libyan authorities as well as the European Union (EU) to account and urge them to immediately take steps against the unacceptable treatment of migrants in the country.

26th June: HUDI Team takes part to the Amnesty International Campaign “Gelbe Couch”

last updated Jun 26, 2014 Today, 26 June, is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and the Team Human Dignity and Public Security (HUDI) of the Institute celebrates it by taking part in the Amnesty International Campaign “Gelbe Couch” in Vienna.

26th June: International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

last updated Jun 26, 2014 The 26th June is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this occasion various human rights organisations raise awareness on the topic of torture and remind us that despite international standards and obligations torture and other forms of cruel and inhuman treatment still occurs.

Brazil: World Cup accompanied by excessive use of force, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment by police forces

last updated Jun 17, 2014 The World Cup started one week ago and demonstrations in Brazil are still ongoing. Thousands of Brazilians protest against government corruption and the poor level of healthcare, education and public transport in the light of excessive state spending for the World Cup. The state response to the demonstrations is alarming. Police forces try to repress the demonstrations with excessive use of force and violence against the protesters.

OHCHR: UN human rights expert calls for a global reform on laws on the use of force by the police

last updated Jun 17, 2014 In his recent report on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officials worldwide, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns calls upon a global reform on laws regulating the use of force by the police in order to meet international standards.