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UN expert panel to draft guiding principles for anyone to challenge the legality of arbitrary detention

GENEVA (26 August 2013) – The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention* is meeting this week in Geneva to lay the foundations for the draft guiding principles on the right of anyone deprived of his or her liberty to bring proceedings before a court in order to challenge the legality of the detention.

“These basic principles and guidelines aim to ensure the respect of the fundamental right of victims of arbitrary detention to go to court so that it may decide without delay on the lawfulness of their detention, and order their immediate release if the detention is not lawful,” said El Hadji Malick Sow, who currently heads the five-member body.

“The draft basic principles and guidelines is an imperative task entrusted to us by the UN Human Rights Council in July 2012,” Mr. Sow added. “These principles and guidelines are to assist member States in fulfilling their obligation to avoid arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”

The Working Group is soliciting from various stakeholders including States and non-state actors, information regarding this important initiative.

During its 67th session, the group of human rights experts will also discuss more than 20 confidential cases concerning 20 different countries, as well as work on various issues relating to deprivation of liberty and forthcoming country visits and communications from States.

Last year, the expert panel adopted 69 Opinions concerning 198 persons in 37 States. It also transmitted 104 urgent appeals to 44 Governments concerning 606 individuals, including 56 women. Governments and sources reported that 21 persons were released. In other cases, the Working Group was assured that the detainees concerned would be guaranteed a fair trial. The experts also focused on the definition and scope of arbitrary deprivation of liberty under customary law.

The Working Group’s 67th session will be held in private at Palais des Nations, UN headquarters in Geneva.

The Working Group was established by the former Commission on Human Rights in 1991 to investigate instances of alleged arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was clarified and extended by the Commission to cover the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. In 2010, the Human Rights Council confirmed the scope of the Working Group's mandate and extended it for a further three-year period. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Detention/Pages/WGADIndex.aspx

(*) The Working Group is comprised of five independent expert members from various regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow (Senegal) and the Vice-Chair is Ms. Shaheen Sardar Ali (Pakistan). Other members include Mr. Mads Andenas (Norway), Mr. Roberto Garretón (Chile) and Mr. Vladimir Tochilovsky (Ukraine).
Check the Working Group’s data base: http://www.unwgaddatabase.org/un/

For more information and media requests please contact Miguel de la Lama (+ 41 22 917 9289 / wgad@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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