Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, U.N. Doc. A/63/175 (July 28, 2008).
This report was authored by Manfred Nowak, then the United Nations’ independent expert on torture and other ill treatment. The report focuses on “the situation of persons with disabilities, who are frequently subjected to neglect, severe forms of restraint and seclusion, as well as physical, mental and sexual violence.” The Special Rapporteur expresses concern “that such practices, perpetrated in public institutions, as well as in the private sphere, remain invisible and are not recognized as torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The report has a section examining the use of solitary confinement. The Special Rapporteur contends that solitary confinement “has a clearly documented negative impact on mental health, and therefore should be used only in exceptional circumstances or when absolutely necessary for criminal investigation purposes. In all cases, solitary confinement should be used for the shortest period of time.” In addition, solitary confinement should be prohibited for mentally ill prisoners and children under the age of 18.
The report also highlights the Istanbul Statement on the Use and Effects of Solitary Confinement as a useful tool to protect the rights of detainees.
Keywords: mental health, mental illness, mentally ill, mental health treatment, juvenile, persons with disabilities, therapeutic, prolonged segregation, prolonged solitary confinement, long-term segregation, Guantánamo Bay, international standards, international norms, human rights