UN torture sleuth urges end to long solitary terms

October 18, 2011 23:24

UNITED NATIONS - The UN torture investigator called on nations on Tuesday to end lengthy solitary confinement in prisons, saying it could cause serious mental and physical damage and amount to torture.

Solitary confinement is practiced in a majority of countries for reasons ranging from punishment to protection of prisoners from fellow inmates but is subject to widespread abuse, said Juan Mendez, UN special rapporteur on torture.

"It can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pretrial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities or juveniles," he told the UN General Assembly's human rights committee.

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