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Romania: UN expert to assess judicial reform in the context of the independence of judges and lawyers

GENEVA / BUCHAREST (16 May 2011) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, will visit Romania from 17 to 24 May 2011 to examine the country’s judicial reform. Ms. Knaul will focus, among other things, on issues of access to justice, legal aid and assistance, fair trial guarantees, the legal profession and the prosecution service.

“Since 2005, Romania has embarked upon a legal reform which started with a strategy for the reform of the Judiciary,” the UN independent expert said announcing her first visit to Romania. “My mission will provide a vital opportunity to analyze the situation of the judiciary and the legal profession on the ground and discuss the challenges encountered in the process to improve the judicial system and ensure it is solid, transparent and independent.”

“I would also like to record the progress achieved over the past years in protecting and enhancing the independence of judges and lawyers” noted Ms. Knaul, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government.

The Special Rapporteur’s mission will take her to Bucharest, Iasi and Cluj Napoca, where she will hold discussions with representatives of the Government, court officials, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and associations of legal professionals, and others. Ms. Knaul will present her findings to the Human Rights Council in 2012.

A press conference will be held in Bucharest on 24 May at 15:00 hrs in the premises of UNIC-Bucharest (UN House, ground floor conference room, 48A Primaverii Blvd, Bucharest 1, Romania).

The UN expert’s mission to Romania follows her visit to Bulgaria, from 9 to 16 May 2011.

Gabriela Knaul took up her functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on 1 August 2009. In that capacity, she acts independently from any Government or organization. Ms. Knaul has a long-standing experience as a judge in Brazil and is an expert in criminal justice and the administration of judicial systems.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/judiciary/index.htm

OHCHR Country page – Romania: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/ROIndex.aspx

For media requests during the visit, please contact Ms.Cristina Balan, UNIC-Bucharest (Tel.: +40 21 201 78 77 / Mob.: +40 75 683 28 78 / email: cristina.balan@unic.org) or Ms. Mireya Maritza Peña Guzmán, OHCHR (Mob.: +41 79 20 10 119 / email: mpena@ohchr.org)