Juan_MendezGENEVA (7 October 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Prof. Juan E. Méndez (SRT), is devoting his upcoming thematic report to address the question of torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment (CIDT) of children deprived of their liberty.  This thematic report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2015.

In his thematic reports, the SRT seeks to generate a discussion about issues related to his mandate that are not completely covered by international law or that fall into grey areas where no clear discernible standards are present.  Past reports by the SRT have focused on a diversity of issues from juvenile justice, to women, to non-refoulement, however this will be the first time that the SRT will specifically address issues of child immigration detention in a thematic report.

In this context, the report will explore how the unique vulnerability of children can potentially affect the standards for torture and CIDT, requiring higher standards and broader safeguards to protect juveniles deprived of their liberty. The report will also seek to analyze the extent to which and how existing standards and practices on preventing torture and ill-treatment ought to be modified or reinterpreted to apply to children. Two paramount considerations in assessing the critical aspects of the intersection between the torture and ill-treatment prohibition and juvenile detention practices and in applying the relevant legal standards to juveniles are how children may experience pain and suffering differently than adults, and the long-term impact of certain practices that may not be immediately detectable.

The report will also explore the intersection among the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention Against Torture (CAT), and customary international law. It will explore how protections of both treaties can be effectively applied, particularly with a view to determining whether there is a need for additional or different standards to address the unique needs of juveniles, as well as to define the scope of the principle of “the best interest of the child,” as expressed in the CRC, in the context of deprivation of liberty.

The report will take an expansive look at a range of topics including but going beyond classic criminal justice. It may also explore, inter alia, issues involving children in social care; minors in immigration detention; children who live with mothers in detention; and children with mental disabilities. In this context, the Special Rapporteur plans to include governmental and privately run institutions. It is hoped that the SRT’s report will capitalize on the momentum currently being created to reassess the standards for juveniles deprived of their liberty.

To follow input into this important report and to follow the progress of the SRT, please visit his website:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx