Psychological torture by virtue of detention in solitary confinement

Concerning Ms. Helle Jensen (represented by counsel, Mr. Tyge Trier and Mr. Brent Sørensen) vs Denmark for violation of articles 1,12 and 16 of CAT.

The author was arrested in her home in North Western Zealand and charged with smuggling cigarettes. The Court ordered the author’s detention and solitary confinement. The solitary confinement period was extended by the Court Several times. At the request of the complainant’s counsel, the prison doctor reported on the author’s state of health. The report concluded that the complainant appeared to be close to a psychotic breakdown. The Court decided to terminate the solitary confinement. However, it extended the pre-trial detention but also decided, with her consent, that she be placed in alternative detention together with her three children.

The author’s representative, Professor Bent Sørensen, wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions (the DPP) requesting an investigation into the possibility that the complainant had been subjected to psychological torture by virtue of her detention in solitary confinement. The DPP responded that, in his opinion, “there is no basis for believing that the pre-trial detention in solitary confinement was effected for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession from the person charged or a third party, making it an act of torture as defined in the Convention against Torture.” Thus a complaint was sent to CAT.

The Committee notes the State party’s argument that by failing to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court and/or for compensation under the Administration of Justice Act, the complainant has not exhausted domestic remedies. Thus the Committee declared this communication to be inadmissible.

6. July 2020

CAT 202/2002
  • Decision: 24. May 2004
  • Comm: Torture