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UN Special Rapporteur on torture returns to Georgia after ten years

GENEVA (10 March 2015) – The United Nations human rights expert Juan E. Méndez will undertake an information-gathering mission to Georgia from 12 to 19 March 2015, ten years after the first visit to the country by the former Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment*.

“In recent years, the Georgian Government has opened up to the international community and engaged with human rights experts to try and improve a wide range of issues within the criminal justice system,” Mr. Méndez said.

“It is my hope to play a small part in this shift to a more transparent society by having a constructive dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders to assist the Government to identify ongoing challenges that it may have with regards to upholding the rule of law, promoting accountability for torture and ill-treatment, and fulfilling the right of reparations for victims,” the expert stressed.

To this end, the Special Rapporteur will meet with relevant authorities in the executive, the judiciary, parliamentary committee members, national human rights institutions, civil society, international and regional organizations, victims and their families.

During his eight-day visit, at the invitation of the Government, the Special Rapporteur will travel to both Eastern and Western Georgia to conduct unannounced visits to places of detention such as police stations, temporary detention isolators, pre-trial facilities and penitentiaries in a country which he anticipates has undergone significant changes since his predecessor’s visit.

“I welcome the Government’s initiative to follow up on the commitments made in 2005 with the accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and establishing a national preventative mechanism in 2009,” he noted.

Mr. Méndez will share his preliminary comments and recommendations at a press conference to be held on Thursday 19 March 2015, at 17:30, at the Courtyard Marriott Meeting Room 1 (address: 4 Freedom Square).

The Special Rapporteur will present a final report to the Human Rights Council in March 2016.

(*) Check the 2005 report on Georgia by the former Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.3

Mr. Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2010. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He is currently a Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association.

Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx

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.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Georgia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/GEIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact: Sonia Cronin (+41 79 444 3993 / scronin@ohchr.org) or Petrine Leweson (+41 79 444 4078 / pleweson@ohchr.org) or write to sr-torture@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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