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Special Rapporteur on torture
27 November 2023
The Special Rapporteur’s fourth report will focus on current issues and good practices in the management of prisons, including pre-trial detention facilities. The report will consider ongoing and emerging challenges in preventing and responding to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and hopes to identify concrete solutions to these challenges.
The Special Rapporteur has noted that there is growing pressure on national prison systems, many of which are severely overcrowded, under-resourced and poorly managed. Authorities report struggling to manage facilities safely, humanely and in accordance with international human rights standards. In these circumstances, the risks of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are elevated, including its most severe form as torture, and opportunities for meaningful rehabilitation are limited.
The Special Rapporteur seeks to identify the best ways in both policy and practice to relieve the pressure on detention authorities and to work collaboratively with different stakeholders to prevent adverse human rights impacts. The Special Rapporteur considers that humane and dignified treatment and a focus on protecting and promoting mental health of prisoners, including through meaningful activities, is vital to assist prisoners’ re-integration into their communities upon release and for the protection of the public.
The forthcoming report will highlight new and emerging areas of concern but will also consider ongoing issues which have seen developments or where authorities would still benefit from further clarification and guidance. Inadequate conditions of detention, high levels of violence, the lack of effective risk and needs assessments for individuals, and problematic discipline and rewards systems, and specifically the (mis)use of solitary confinement, are all elements that have repeatedly come to the attention of the Special Rapporteur.
The Special Rapporteur is interested in hearing about the experiences of particular groups of people and the ways that their specific needs have been – or have failed to be – addressed. She will pay particular attention to women and girls, children and youth, indigenous peoples, members of national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities, LGBTQI+ persons, people living with past trauma and/or people with neurodiverse conditions.
The report will be also framed within broader global issues which impact the management of prisons and the security, health and wellbeing of those detained, and which can threaten progress towards fully human rights compliant approaches. These include the threat of future pandemics (learning lessons from Covid-19 responses), and climate-related and other emergency responses. She is also interested in maintaining standards in prisons outsourced to private companies.
The Special Rapporteur seeks contributions from States, including the responsible government agencies and administrators (for example, justice or prison ministries or departments, correctional services, asylum or immigration authorities). The Special Rapporteur would particularly welcome contributions from National Preventive Mechanisms or other national or local visiting or inspection bodies, and National Human Rights Institutions.
Recognizing that the prevention of torture and other ill-treatment in places of detention involves all State actors, the Special Rapporteur invites responses, including best practice examples, from parliamentarians, prosecution service, the judiciary, and others involved in decisions of whether and where to detain individuals (e.g. parole boards).
She would also welcome contributions from civil society organisations and academics, including those representing the views and experiences of people directly impacted by detention.
If you have limited time, the Special Rapporteur would still like to hear from you. You may choose to respond on an issue which is most pressing in your country or simply provide a summary of the main issues of concern in your country. She is looking for good practices that address specific issues.
The Special Rapporteur seeks inputs and submissions to inform work on this report. She is interested to receive submissions that provide information on:
She is also open to hearing about other issues of pressing concern that are not specifically listed.
Areas of particular focus:
Responses should be submitted by 27 November 2023
Email subject line:
Call for input current issues and good practice in prison management
English, Spanish, French
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Office at Geneva, CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland