Header image for news printout


20 February 2007

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mr. Leandro Despouy, will visit the Maldives, from 25 February to 1 March 2007, to assist the authorities in implementing judicial reforms.

In March 2006, the Government of Maldives adopted a “Roadmap for the Reform Agenda”, an extensive programme of reforms which will guide the transition of the country towards democracy. The Roadmap is aimed at strengthening governance and the protection of human rights including, among other things, adopting a new Constitution, enhancing the independence of the judiciary and establishing a Supreme Court.

The Government of the Maldives requested the assistance of the United Nations in the implementation of the Roadmap. In this context, and at the invitation of the Government, Mr. Despouy will conduct a first-hand investigation of the situation of the Maldivian judiciary system and make recommendations for strengthening and guaranteeing its independence, a principle which is not enshrined in the present Constitution.

The Special Rapporteur’s investigation will include a study of the reform steps affecting the judiciary system that are being currently discussed by the Parliament, and assessing the level of access of the population to the justice system, the respect of fair trial guarantees in the court system, the independence of judges, prosecutors and lawyers and their level of professional training.

The Special Rapporteur will meet with the President of the Maldives, Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a number of Government ministers, judges from various levels of courts, the Attorney General, prosecutors and lawyers, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. He will also travel to Addu Atoll, an island in the south of the archipelago, to meet both judges and prosecutors in this region, as well as civil society representatives.

The Special Rapporteur will submit his findings and recommendations in a report to the Human Rights Council in the first half of 2007.

Mr. Despouy, President of the Auditoría-General of Argentina, which audits the country's public service, was appointed Special Rapporteur in September 2003. He has extensive experience in human rights and international humanitarian law and has held a number of high-level positions in the United Nations and the Government of Argentina.

For more information on the visit please contact: + 41 22 917 9253, vmilano@ohchr.org, until 21 February and + 41 22 917 9158, jraue@ohchr.org thereafter.

* *** *