Death Penalty Focus is marking the 20th World Day Against the Death Penalty with a webinar featuring a discussion on “Torture and the Death Penalty” with DPF President Mike Farrell and Professor Juan E. Méndez, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.
The discussion will air on Monday, October 10, 2022, at noon Pacific/3 p.m. Eastern and is free of charge.
“The most frequent setting where torture and coercion take place is in the course of the interrogation of suspects and to obtain confessions or declarations against others,” Méndez told the United Nations in 2016. Last year, Méndez presented the Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering to the international community at the UN.
The issue is personal as well as professional for Méndez. As a young human rights lawyer in Argentina in the 1970s, Méndez was arrested by the military dictatorship because he represented political prisoners. Imprisoned and subjected to torture for more than a year, he knows the urgency of a universal protocol prohibiting these practices.
Méndez is now Faculty Director of the Anti-Torture Initiative at American University Washington College of Law. He will be joining his longtime friend Farrell in a discussion of how the death penalty is, in and of itself, torture and how many men and women who are on death row are there as a result of being tortured physically or psychologically into making a false confession, or are the victims of false testimony provided by witnesses who were threatened with torture, or tortured themselves.
Farrell has been a refugee aid and human rights activist for almost 40 years. In the late ‘90s, with Human Rights Watch, he took part in a mission to the U.S./Mexico border areas investigating claims of abuse against the undocumented by U.S. Border Patrol agents. In 1999, again with an HRW investigator, he toured and interviewed prisoners at McAlester State Prison in Oklahoma, with particular attention to its segregation and death row facility, the infamous H-Unit.
DPF’s new Executive Director, David Brazil, will moderate the 45-minute discussion.