UN: governments must refrain from torture even outside borders

UN: governments must refrain from torture even outside borders

[JURIST] States should protect human rights even when acting transnationally, urged UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez [official profile] in a statement [press release] on Tuesday. Méndez made the comments while presenting his latest report on torture [text, PDF], which addresses extraterritorial application of the ban on ill-treatment under international law and mantains that governments have a duty to ensure that all persons are treated with respect outside their borders. Méndez stated:

Torture is torture no matter how small. … The absolute and non-derogable prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment cannot be territorially limited and States must respect the rights of all persons, anywhere in the world, to be free from torture and other ill-treatment at all times. States must implement safeguards to protect persons from torture and other ill-treatment when they are detained extraterritorially within their jurisdiction.

Méndez also requested that governments provide civil remedies and rehabilitation for victims torture and human rights violations internationally.

Allegations of torture and human rights abuses continue to be made worldwide. Earlier this month Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged UAE officials to investigate and prosecute accusations of torture [JURIST report] made by detainees. Also this month the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against psychologists who created the torture techniques used on three former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prisoners. Also in October France opened a torture investigation [JURIST report] into the actions of the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile] in Syrian detention facilities. In September Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng revealed in an interview that he was subjected to torture [JURIST report] in a Chinese prison.