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UN special rapporteurs press for greater protection of detainees

[JURIST] Thirteen United Nations experts on Monday urged the international community to respect the rights of detainees [statement text]. The statement of the 13 special rapporteurs, including Philip Alston [official website; JURIST news archive], the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Manfred Nowak [official website; JURIST news archive], the Special Rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, comes as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] celebrates Dignity and Justice for Detainees Week [UNHCHR materials]. The statement called on all states to respect the rights of detainees:

All too often we have seen that discrimination existing in societies at large is exacerbated when people are deprived of their liberty. Even when policies and practices aim to treat everyone equally, they often overlook the particular needs of women, minors, non-citizens, the sick and the disabled. Poor detainees suffer disproportionally from overcrowding and their access to healthcare [sic] and food is often reduced to a minimum. Those detained far from home suffer the most for lack of family support. Members of vulnerable groups or women run an increased risk of falling victims to sexual violence and slavery-like practices within places of detention, frequently with the tacit approval of, or directly committed by, State officials. Too often detention serves as a means of punishment without educational opportunities, thus further marginalising [sic] detainees rather than helping them to prepare for release. ... On the occasion of the week on "Dignity and Justice for Detainees", we call on all States to do their utmost to ensure that detainees, as all other human beings, are treated with respect and dignity. We also appeal to States to provide for effective complaints and monitoring mechanisms in places of detention, including efficient avenues to challenge the legality of detention and access to legal counsel, with a view to making human rights a reality for them.
The UN News Centre has more.

Dignity and Justice for Detainees Week comes during ongoing UN celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [declaration text]. In comments preceding the observance of Dignity and Justice for Detainees Week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem (Navi) Pillay [official profile], who took office last month, urged the military-led government of Myanmar to release its remaining political prisoners [JURIST report] while calling attention to "unjust or inappropriate" detentions worldwide.

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