UN Special Rapportuer: Solitary Confinement is Cruel and Unusual Punishment

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US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (L), surrounded by US military, arrives at a US military Magistrate Court facility during an Article 32 hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland on December 19, 2011
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The Eighth Amendment declares that "cruel and unusual punishment" may not be inflicted on prisoners. But does solitary confinement constitute cruel and unusual punishment? In a new report looking at the imprisonment of Bradley Manning, the soldier suspected of leaking confidential military documents to the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, the UN Special Rapporteuer on Torture, Juan Mendez, says that it does. Having just completed a 14-month investigation, Mendez concludes that keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period might have constituted torture and has formally accused the U.S. government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning. 

Juan Mendez is a UN special rapportuer on torture.