Brian K. (25), also known under the pseudonym “Carlos”, became a nationally known criminal because of a special setting. Brian has spent most of the years behind bars since he was a teenager. He is currently in custody in the Pöschwies prison, where, according to experts called in by his father, he has to endure torture.
Meanwhile, Nils Melzer (51) has also become aware of Brian. The Swiss lawyer and UN special rapporteur on torture since 2016 describes Brian’s long solitary confinement as “inhuman”, like that NZZ reported.
Melzer demands the immediate end of solitary confinement for the young offender. To this end, he also intervened with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). The timing is not accidental: Melzer’s focus is on tomorrow, Wednesday. Then the Zurich Higher Court will announce its verdict in the Brian case, which will decide the fate of the 25-year-old. Will the young offender be kept as the public prosecutor demands? Or does Brian have to be released immediately as requested by the defense?
Uno-Melzer sees “red line crossed”
Brian’s days in jail are no picnic. An expert opinion after a five-hour conversation with Brian in April speaks of loneliness, isolation and sometimes brawls between the inmate and guards. The experts see this as torture.
The high UN expert Melzer also sees a red line crossed – and intervened in writing with the FDFA on June 9, as reported by Radio SRF. Melzer wanted to draw the Zurich court’s attention to the inadmissible conditions of detention: “Of course, it’s about exerting influence. In the end, I have been given the task of notifying states when they cross a red line. “
«Inhuman solitary confinement»
The UN special rapporteur describes the long solitary confinement as “inhuman”. By treating the prisoner, Switzerland is violating the anti-torture convention it has signed. Melzer wrote this in a statement published on Monday.
Melzer refers to the Nelson Mandela rules of the United Nations. Long-term solitary confinement of more than 15 days is considered cruel, inhuman and degrading. In addition to the end of solitary confinement with immediate effect, Melzer also demands an independent investigation. The FDFA has 60 days to comment on the Brian K. case.
Lack of understanding by the Zurich enforcement authorities
The Zurich Office for Prison and Reintegration, which is responsible for Brian’s accommodation, wants to participate in a “speedy and thorough statement” against the special rapporteur, as it is called. But the move by the UN envoy met with little understanding: “We find that Mr Melzer is making allegations without having heard the accused. This contradicts the rule of law and is prejudicial ”, is quoted from the written statement of the office.
Melzer is unimpressed. According to the protocol of his mandate, he is obliged to forward information about violations of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment to the Swiss federal authorities. According to Melzer, this is “not a prejudice” by the Zurich enforcement authorities, but the “standard working method of all UN special rapporteurs”. (kes)