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Press release of Chaloka Beyani, Chairperson of the Coordination Committee, on the break-in of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression's office

GENEVA (2 August 2013) – The current Chair of the largest body* of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system, Chaloka Beyani, today expressed alarm that the Guatemala private office of the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue was broken into during the evening of 31 July 2013.

“While the motive behind this break-in is still unclear, any attack on a Special Rapporteur is always cause of concern, particularly in countries with a recent history of tensions with human rights defenders,” said Mr. Beyani, from the Coordination Committee representing more than 70 independent experts designated by the UN Human Rights Council to address specific country situations and thematic issues in all parts of the world.

Several computers and documents belonging to the Special Rapporteur were stolen from his office located at the Demos Institute in Guatemala City. The Guatemalan authorities initiated the investigations to clarify the situation.

“I would like to express my solidarity and support to Special Rapporteur La Rue and the Demos Institute,” Mr. Beyani said. “We are waiting for full clarification of this sad episode by the Guatemalan authorities.”

(*) “Special procedures” is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Currently, there are 36 thematic and 13 country mandates, with over 70 mandate holders. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides these mechanisms with support for the fulfilment of their mandates.

Frank La Rue was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any Government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Guatemala: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/GTIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact Marcelo Daher (+41 22 917 9431 / mdaher@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@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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