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Independence of the judiciary: UN expert launches mission to the Maldives

GENEVA (14 February 2013) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul will carry out a visit to the Maldives from 17 to 24 February 2013, to assess the independence of judges and lawyers, as well as the functioning of the justice system, after the democratic transition and the adoption of the new Constitution in 2008.

“My visit will focus on the achievements of the country in improving the independence of the judiciary and the free exercise of the legal profession since its democratization process started,” Ms. Knaul said while announcing the second visit to the Maldives, since 2007, by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the independence of judges and lawyers.

“I also wish to identify areas where progress is lacking and measures that need to be taken for the Maldives to continue strengthening its institutions on the difficult path towards a long-standing democracy,” noted the expert, who visits the country at the invitation of the Government.

During her eight-day visit, Ms. Knaul will meet with Government representatives, members of Parliament, the human rights commission, national judicial institutions and courts at all levels, prosecutors, law professionals, UN agencies, and international and local non-governmental organizations, in Malé and Addu atoll.

Based on the information collected during the visit, the Special Rapporteur will prepare a report to be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2013.

At the end of the visit on Sunday, 24 February, Ms. Knaul will hold a press conference in Malé to present her preliminary observations. Further details will follow.

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, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Judiciary/Pages/IDPIndex.aspx

Check the 2007 report on the Maldives: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G07/126/68/PDF/G0712668.pdf?OpenElement

OHCHR Country page – Maldives: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MVIndex.aspx

Check the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/IndependenceJudiciary.aspx

For additional information and media requests, please contact Safir Syed, in Malé (+960 334 3206 / ssyed@ohchr.org) or write to srindependence@ohchr.org.

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

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