On October 23, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, told a UN General Assembly human rights committee that countries around the world are increasingly viewing capital punishment as a form of torture because of the severe mental and physical pain it inflicts on those sentenced to death.

Mendez told the committee, “States need to re-examine their procedures under international law because the ability of states to impose and carry out the death penalty is diminishing as these practices are increasingly viewed to constitute torture.” Mendez urged all countries to consider repealing capital punishment because it is “cumbersome and expensive and you’re never sure you’re doing it in the right way.”

Mendez also spoke about the “death row phenomenon,” that is, conditions on death row that cause severe mental anguish and physical suffering. He said such deprivations include anxiety due to the threat of imminent execution, extended solitary confinement, and poor prison conditions.


L. Charbonneau, Executions increas­ing­ly viewed as tor­ture: U.N. inves­ti­ga­tor, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 232012