Prolonged solitary confinement is torture, says expert

Juan Mendez

Long term solitary confinement in excess of 15 days could amount to torture and should be banned, says Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Quoting scientific studies, Mendez says indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement or isolation causes mental damage.

Juveniles, persons with mental disabilities or in pre-trial detention should not be isolated because it can be used to 'extort' confessions.

Mr. Mendez, who was detained and tortured by the Argentinean military dictatorship in the 1970s, is not confining his message to governments.

"I am also expecting civil society organizations that have even more experience than I have on solitary confinement to pick up this report and to the extent that is possible, to use it as a campaign tool to see if we can abolish solitary confinement in its worst manifestations but even in those where it is permissible, to establish clear safeguards and protection so that it doesn't end up constituting torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

The torture expert adds that the practice should only be used in exceptional circumstance and for very short periods of time.

(Duration: 25")

Solitary confinement should be banned in most cases, UN expert says

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