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UAE: UN rights expert launches first visit to assess the independence of the justice system

GENEVA (22 January 2014) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul will undertake an official visit to the United Arab Emirates from 28 January to 5 February 2014, to assess the independence of judges, lawyers, and prosecutors, as well as the functioning of the justice system.

This will be the first information-gathering visit to the UAE by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the independence of judges and lawyers worldwide.

“The purpose of this nine-day visit is to assess both the achievements and challenges faced by the country in ensuring the independence of the judiciary and the free exercise of the legal profession at the federal and emirate level,” Ms. Knaul said.

“I will also examine important issues pertaining to the administration of justice, including due process and fair trial guarantees, equal access to justice and legal aid, the position of women in the justice system, accountability processes for judicial actors, issues related to the independence of judges of foreign nationality, and the role of prosecution services,” she explained.

The UN independent expert, who visits the country at the invitation of the Government, will meet with representatives from the Government and the legislative branch, as well as with several actors of the justice system, such as judges, prosecutors and lawyers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. She will also meet with representatives from civil society, academia, UN agencies and the diplomatic community.

The information collected during the visit will result in a report which will be presented to the Human Rights Council.

At the end of the visit on Wednesday 5 February, Ms. Knaul will hold a press conference to present her preliminary observations at 12:00 noon at the Sheraton Hotel and Resort – Oasis Room, Corniche Road, in Abu Dhabi.

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

UN Human Rights, Country Page – United Arab Emirates: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/AEIndex.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:
In English or French: Amanda Flores (+41 79 201 0119 (mobile) / or write to aflores@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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