UNITED NATIONS - TORTURE remains prevalent around the world and millions of jail inmates suffer inhuman treatment, a UN specialist said on Tuesday.

Mr Manfred Novak, UN special rapporteur on torture, said he had visited 18 countries in the past year and only in one - Denmark - was no case of torture reported.

'Torture is practised in most countries of the world,' he told a press conference.

'There are about 10 million prisoners around the world. I would say the clear majority of these prisoners have been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, but there are many more millions of persons in police custody who are treated in a worse manner.' Mr Novak said the torture was part of a 'global crisis' in justice.

'There are not enough legal safeguards... preventing torture, that means there is not enough political will,' said Novak, adding the United States has a special duty to put pressure on Iraq to end torture in prisons.

Mr Novak said the visits he had carried out accounted for about 10 per cent of the UN member states. 'I think it is a representative sample - it is a very very sad picture that I am painting,' he said. Egypt, Algeria, Zimbabwe and Cuba refused to allowed visits by the expert, he said. He did not name the other countries he visited.

Millions suffer 'inhuman' treatment