Uphold Article Five Now

JDI Honors 60th Anniversary
of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10, 2008, Washington, DC. - The widespread sexual abuse that plagues U.S. prisons and jails, in contravention of domestic and international law, remains one of this nation’s most neglected human rights crises. As the world celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, JDI urges American policymakers and corrections officials to put an end to rape and other forms of sexual violence in U.S. detention facilities.

Cecilia Chung, a survivor of sexual violence in detention said, “Although you may think that I am not like you, we are not so different. I want to have control over my own body and my life, just as you do. I want to choose the people with whom I get intimate, just as you do. I absolutely did not want to have sex with that man in the San Francisco Jail, but I felt powerless to refuse him.”

Embraced by representatives of all regions and legal traditions, the Universal Declaration has stood the test of time and resisted attacks based on “relativism.” Its core values, including non-discrimination, equality, fairness, and universality, apply to everyone, everywhere and always. The Universal Declaration belongs to all of us – including detainees.

Prisoner rape, whether perpetrated by corrections officials or by other inmates with the acquiescence of staff, is recognized internationally as a form of torture. As such, this type of abuse is a violation of Article Five of the Universal Declaration, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

“Article Five of the Universal Declaration is the guiding principle of JDI’s work. Regardless of what crime someone may have committed, regardless of a person’s status in society, rape must never be part of the penalty,” said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of JDI. “Today is a perfect time for corrections officials to reflect on the inherent dignity of all, and to make an extra effort to protect the safety of inmates in their charge.”

Just Detention International (JDI) is a human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention. JDI has three core goals for its work: to ensure government accountability for prisoner rape; to transform ill-informed public attitudes about sexual violence in detention; and to promote access to resources for those who have survived this form of abuse.

Press contact: Darby Hickey, Senior Communications Associate, 202-580-6935 or