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Juan Méndez: "Not only is it possible to conduct effective interviews without violating human rights but there are more effective ways of reaching the truth"

Mr. Juan E. Méndez, resident professor of international human rights law at the American University - Washington College of Law (WCL), and former UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, stressed that people are at greater risk of torture and ill-treatment in the first hours following the deprivation of liberty. He said that investigators search and investigate the facts and evidence of a crime. They are particularly interested in the detainee cooperation. Therefore, in those early hours, these people are more likely to be tortured, and torture tends to be the harshest and the most devastating to their psyche and physical integrity, he added.

This declaration was part of his statement delivered remotely at the International Seminar on “Standards and practices on prevention against torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment during arrest, hearing and custody” organized by the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) and the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) on Tuesday 20 September 2022, at the Royal Police Institute, in Kenitra, Morocco.
 

Mr. Méndez also highlighted that during drafting the document on the "Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering", the Moroccan experience and cooperation with the CNDH provide him with information of great usefulness to his inquiry and support to his recommendations. He noted that establishing the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture in Morocco three years ago was a defining moment in building the rule of law in Morocco and a cornerstone to further enhance respect for human rights.

At this seminar, Mr. Méndez underlined Morocco's efforts to strengthening the guarantees that protect individuals from abuses in using authority, particularly during a criminal investigation. He shed light on the amendments made in recent years in the Kingdom to criminal procedure, especially, after he visited Morocco in 2013.

Ha also hailed the CNDH’s tireless advocacy to prevent torture in Morocco.

Link to the statement of Mr. Juan Méndez

Download the "Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering"