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UN rights expert to visit Portugal to assess independence of the justice system

GENEVA (23 January 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul will carry out an official visit to Portugal from 27 January to 3 February 2015, to assess the independence of judges, lawyers, and prosecutors, as well as the functioning of the justice system.

“My visit will focus on both the achievements and challenges of the country in ensuring the independence of the judiciary, the free exercise of the legal profession, and access to justice for all,” said Ms. Knaul, who is visiting Portugal at the invitation of the Government.

“I will also concentrate on key issues regarding the administration of justice, such as guarantees of due process and fair trial, including undue delays, and equal access to justice and legal aid, in particular for vulnerable members of the population, such as children, migrants, the Roma community, or women victims of domestic violence,” she explained.

During her eight-day visit, Ms. Knaul will meet representatives from the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, as well as prosecutors and lawyers in Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra. She will also meet with the Ombudsman, legal experts and academics, and representatives of civil society.

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 of this year.

At the end of the visit on Tuesday 3 February, Ms. Knaul will hold a press conference to present her preliminary observations. The press conference will be held at 11:00 am at Lisbon Real Pálacio Hotel, rua Tomás Ribeiro 115.

ENDS

Gabriela Kaul was appointed by Human Rights Council 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.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Portugal:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/PTIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact:
In English or Portuguese: Marcelo Daher (+41 22 917 94 31 – before the visit / +41 79 109 68 75 – mobile during the visit only) / or write to mdaher@ohchr.org
In English or Spanish: Amanda Flores (+41 22 917 91 86) / or write to SRindependenceJL@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts in Geneva:
Liz Throssell + 41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org or Ravina Shamdasani +41 22 917 9169 /rshamdasani@ohchr.org

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