[JURIST] A group of international human rights experts, including UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez, on Monday called on [press release] states worldwide to adopt the Revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners [text, PDF]. Also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules, the standards “represent a universally accepted minimum standard for the treatment of prisoners, conditions of detention and prison management, and offer essential practical guidance to prison administrations.” The rules were adopted in 1957 and revised [UN News Centre report] in 2015, when they were renamed in honor of the former President of South Africa, “who spent 27 years in prison in the course of his struggle for global human rights, equality, democracy and the promotion of a culture of peace.”
The rights of incarcerated individuals are an important and contentious topic worldwide. In the United States, the issue is most acutely expressed in the Guantanamo Bay controversy. In February, President Obama delivered [JURIST report] his closure plans to Congress, stating that “closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is a national security imperative. Its continued operation weakens our national security by furthering the recruiting propaganda of violent extremists, hindering relations with key allies and partners, and draining Department of Defense resources.” Hindering Obama’s plans, in November the US Senate passed [JURIST report] the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, which prohibits Guantanamo detainees from being transferred into the US. Obama has subsequently permitted [JURIST report] international prisoner transfers, a move that furthers the goal of closing Guantanamo, but may subject prisoners to rights deprivations elsewhere. In June, a report indicated that China harvests [JURIST report] thousands of organs from non-consenting prisoners yearly. In May, over 2000 prisoners were released [JURIST report] from Zimbabwe’s prison system due to overcrowding and food shortages. Earlier in May, Amnesty International reported [JURIST report] that dozens of detainees in South Sudan were being held in inhumane conditions.