Geneva – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez today called on the United States to immediately end the indefinite solitary confinement imposed on Albert Woodfox since 1972.
Angola 3 supporters say it loud on the Louisiana Capitol steps April 17, 2012. – Photo: Angola 3 Coalition
“Keeping Albert Woodfox in solitary confinement for more than four decades clearly amounts to torture and it should be lifted immediately,” said Mr. Méndez, who has repeatedly urged the U.S. government to abolish the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement. “I am deeply concerned about his physical and mental condition.”
The T-shirts and fervor of Albert Woodfox’s supporters drew ever increasing attention to his case at a press conference in November 2008.
“Persons held in solitary confinement should always be allowed to challenge the reasons and the length of the regime and should always have access to legal counsel and medical assistance,” Mr. Méndez said.
The human rights expert urged the U.S. government to adopt concrete measures to eliminate the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement under all circumstances.
The Angola 3 when they were together – though isolated in separate cells – at the infamous Angola State Prison: Herman Wallace, Robert King and Albert Woodfox.
“It is about time to provide the opportunity for an in situ assessment of the conditions in U.S. prisons and detention facilities,” Mr. Méndez reiterated.
Juan E. Méndez of Argentina was appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council as the special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on Nov. 1, 2010. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He is currently a professor of law at the American University – Washington College of Law and co-chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association. Mr. Méndez previously served as the president of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) until 2009 and was the U.N. secretary-general special advisor on the prevention of genocide from 2004 to 2007, as well as an advisor on crime prevention to the prosecutor, International Criminal Court, between 2009 and 2010. To learn more, log on to http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx.
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