Dr. Hernan M. Reyes, M.D., General Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, Medical Coordinator for Detention-Related Activities, ICRC.
Hernan Reyes M.D. – Chile, New York and Geneva
Hernan Reyes, MD is a trained obstetrician/gynaecologist from Geneva University, the author subsequently specialized in the medical aspects of detention. He has been a medical coordinator for the ICRC’s detention-related activities since 1984.
Hernan Reyes, MD*, is a trained obstetrician/gynaecologist from Geneva University, the author subsequently specialized in the medical aspects of detention. He has been a medical coordinator for the ICRC’s detention-related activities since 1984.
ICRC visits to prisoners: The many activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross in areas of conflict include visits to prisoners all over the world. In 1994, over 99,000 prisoners were visited by its delegates and physicians. The purpose of these visits is to ascertain that people in custody are kept in adequate conditions of detention, and that they are not subjected to any forms of ill-treatment, i.e. that their physical and moral integrity is respected.
ICRC visits and the necessary conditions for them to take place have to be negotiated beforehand with the detaining authorities. There are several sine qua non conditions that have to be accepted by the authorities before the ICRC begins visits. These conditions and what ICRC visits are meant to accomplish have been described in a previous paper published in the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) TORTURE journal [1,2]. All health aspects unrelated to the problem of torture are detailed therein.
Legal definitions of torture: In June, 2004, Human Rights First provided the following legal definition of torture, as found in Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. 
The same report states that a 1994 U.S. federal anti-torture statute (18 U.S.C. Section 2340A) defines “torture” and “severe mental pain or suffering” as follows:
(1) “Torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “Severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from –
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality
about Tuberculosis in prisons:
On any day worldwide about 10 million people are incarcerated, in prisons, remand centres, police stations, jails, detention centres for asylum seekers, penal colonies, and prisoner of war camps. There is an increasing recognition that the high risk of tuberculosis in these settings poses a problem for those imprisoned and for the wider society. The issue now is what to do about what was until very recently “a forgotten plague.”1 The important general measures for tuberculosis control in prisons are improvement of prison conditions, particularly a reduction in overcrowding, improvement of nutrition and hygiene, and guaranteed access to improved prison health services.
Knowledge of the epidemiology of tuberculosis in prisons, appreciation of what makes control different from control in other settings, and understanding of the principles of tuberculosis control are all necessary for governmental and other agencies to contribute to the implementation of effective tuberculosis control programmes in prisons. We have focused here on countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis, where the problem is most severe and the need for action most pressing, and on the specific measures necessary in the implementation of an effective prison tuberculosis programme.
Tuberculosis in prisons in countries with high prevalence;
Examining Asylum Seekers – A Health Professional’s Guide to Medical and Psychological Evaluations of Torture – A Report by Physicians for Human Rights
on Torture and its consequences;
the mortality of childhood falls;