World Bulletin / News Desk
Solitary confinement of U.S. prisoners can amount to torture, and California would be wrong to force-feed hunger-striking inmates protesting against the practice, a U.N. expert said on Friday.
Californian prisoners launched a hunger strike on July 8 to demand an end to the housing of inmates in near-isolation for years on end because they are believed to be associated with gangs.
Juan E. Méndez, the independent United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, said the U.S. government should abolish the use of prolonged solitary confinement under all circumstances.
"Even if solitary confinement is applied for short periods of time, it often causes mental and physical suffering or humiliation, amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and if the resulting pain or sufferings are severe, solitary confinement even amounts to torture," Méndez said in a statement.
Solitary confinement should only be used "in very exceptional circumstances, as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and with established safeguards in place" and under strict medical supervision.
About 80,000 U.S. prisoners are in solitary confinement, including nearly 12,000 in California, said the statement issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Méndez was particularly concerned about California's Pelican Bay maximum security prison, which has more than 400 prisoners who have been in isolation for over a decade, with an average time in solitary of 7.5 years.
California's jails won federal court permission this week to force-feed hunger-striking inmates, even if they have signed orders asking not to be resuscitated. A prison health spokeswoman said on Tuesday there was no imminent need to do so.
As of Monday, 136 inmates were taking part in the strike.
Méndez said it was "not acceptable to use threats of forced feeding or other types of physical or psychological coercion against individuals who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike".
In many cases the inmates are isolated for 22-23 hours per day in cells measuring 8 by 12 feet (2.5 by 3.5 metres), with poor ventilation and no natural light, the statement said.
The comments by Méndez, a professor at the American University - Washington College of Law, are not binding on the United States, but his opinions could form the basis for debate at the United Nations.
The U.S. record is due to be scrutinised in October by the U.N. Human Rights Committee, which monitors compliance with a landmark treaty on civil and political rights.
Méndez is himself a former torture victim from Argentina.
The press office of the Ministry of Defense says that the Minister wants the soldiers to be punished as never before, to avoid having these acts in the future.
Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to recapture Mosul from the ISIL group 100 days ago and have ousted the extremists from all the central neighbourhoods of east Mosul.
Parliament's approval needed to trigger Britain's EU exit negotiations: Supreme Court
Iraqi authorities typically blame such attacks on ISIL terrorist group
Mattis "emphasized the United States' unshakeable commitment to NATO" in his call with British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said in a statement.
On October 17, tens of thousands of Iraqi forces launched an offensive -- Iraq's largest military operation in years -- to retake the country's second city from ISIL.
Cyprus, home to about a million inhabitants, has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
The departure of the frail leader could complicate negotiations over the timetable for a New Year's Eve deal under which Kabila will stay in office before new elections are held in late 2017.
To make ends meet, women have had to find new sources of income.
The Indonesian peacekeepers have not been allowed leave Darfur pending the outcome of the UN investigation. An Indonesian police team will be sent to the region to provide assistance.
Fatoumata Tambajang Jallow is former UN diplomat who has served former President Yahya Jammeh as a health minister.
University of East Anglia also to offer discounted tuition fees for students with Education Ministry scholarships
Satellite collars meant to avoid incidents like last year's killing of 13-year-old lion who wandered out of park
Cease-fire focus on first day of Syria peace talks
US seeks to safeguard American jobs by renegotiating trade deals