Mandela Day: Preserving humanity in high-security settings

Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa's first black President, is commemorated every year on 18 July, his birthday, also known as Nelson Mandela International Day. Mr Mandela was visited several times by ICRC staff during his 27 years in prison. He subsequently said: "What matters is not only the good the ICRC brings but the evil it prevents." The UN recently adopted a revised text of Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, named the Mandela Rules, in honour of the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Terry Waite, a former hostage negotiator, spent five years in solitary confinement after a hostage negotiation in Lebanon went terribly wrong. At a recent conference on the subject hosted by ICRC, he described his experience and why this form of punishment in detention is inhumane and should be prohibited. The following short video gives a glimpse of what extreme isolation can do to a human being in Terry's words, with images from around the world.


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