Investigation and Documentation | Torture in Prisons

Shielded from public view, prisons can become unaccountable institutions of torture, medical neglect, and degradation. PHR has investigated prison conditions to expose violation of international human rights standards and to promote humane conditions and access to health care.

In 1995, we issued a report on “Health Conditions in Cambodian Prisons,” documenting inhumane conditions under which prisoners were held. Within weeks after PHR condemned Cambodia’s facilities in our report, King Norodom Sihanouk ordered authorities to mitigate crowding and improve sanitation.

PHR researchers exposed shocking conditions for more than 3,000 detained ex-combatants at Shearghan Prison in Afghanistan, causing an epidemic of death and illness. In Haiti, our investigation “Health Conditions in Haiti’s Prisons” revealed violence, overcrowding, lack of sanitation, and widespread disease.

In the United States, our report “Cruel and Inhuman Treatment, The Use of Four-Point Restraint at Syracuse County Jail, Onondaga County, Syracuse revealed that inmates, stretched on their bunks and shackled with leg irons and handcuffs, suffered musculoskeletal and, in some cases, long-term neurological damage. The investigation prompted an end to the practice. And after years of advocacy by PHR and other organizations, the juvenile death penalty was deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005.

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