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Turkey: first official visit by UN expert on independence of judges and lawyers

GENEVA (7 October 2011) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul will carry out an official visit to Turkey from 10-14 October 2011, to assess a series of judicial reforms recently undertaken by the Government. This is the first official visit to the country by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the independence of judges and lawyers.

“Turkey has recently undertaken a series of judicial reforms that include many aspects at the core of my mandate,” said Ms. Knaul. “My upcoming mission represents a unique opportunity to assess progress made and ensure that obstacles to the development of a truly independent, impartial and effective judiciary are adequately addressed in the implementation of these reforms.”

The Special Rapporteur will also examine other issues, such as access to justice, the availability and effectiveness of legal defence, the prosecution service and the legal profession, as well as fair trial guarantees.

On the basis of her analysis, Ms. Knaul will make recommendations to assist the country in exploring avenues to strengthen the independence and effectiveness of the justice system.

During her five-day mission, the rights expert will visit Ankara, Istanbul and Diyarbakir to meet with a number of high-ranking Government officials, judges from various levels of the courts, prosecutors, bar associations, lawyers, academics, international and local non-governmental organizations and UN agencies.

Ms. Knaul will hold a press conference on 14 October at the Hilton Hotel in Ankara (Tahran Caddesi No. 12, Kavaklidere) at which she will present her preliminary observations. Her report on the visit will be presented in a forthcoming session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2012.

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 – Turkey: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/TRIndex.aspx

Check the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/indjudiciary.htm

For additional information and media requests, please contact Ahmet Parla (Tel.: +90312 4541051 / email: ahmet.parla@unic.org) or Ugo Cedrangolo (Tel: +41 22 917 9286 / email: ucedrangolo@ohchr.org) or write to srindependence@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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