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UN rights expert in first visit to Guinea-Bissau to assess the independence of the justice system

GENEVA / BISSAU (8 October 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Mónica Pinto will carry out an official visit to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau from 10 to 16 October 2015 to assess the independence of judges, lawyers and prosecutors, as well as the functioning of the justice system.

“I wish to identify areas where action is needed to strengthen Guinea-Bissau’s justice system and, in particular, its capacity to fight against impunity, in order to reinforce the rule of law and the protection of human rights in the country,” said the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the independence of judges and lawyers.

“I will also assess both the achievements and challenges faced by the country in ensuring the independence of the judiciary, the free exercise of the legal profession, as well as due process and fair trial and guarantees and access to justice,” Ms. Pinto said.

During her visit to Guinea-Bissau, at the invitation of the authorities, Ms. Pinto will meet with governmental and legislative authorities, as well as with judges, lawyers and prosecutors in Bissau and Bafatá. She will also meet representatives from civil society, academia, UN agencies and the diplomatic and donor community.

At the end of the visit on Friday 16 October, Ms. Pinto will hold a press conference to present her preliminary observations. The press conference will be held at 12:30pm at the Conference room of the United Nations Integrated Peace-Building Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will then present a comprehensive report containing her findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2016.

Ms. Mónica Pinto took up her functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on 1 August 2015. Ms. Pinto is a professor of international law and human rights law at the Law School of the University of Buenos Aires, where she is currently the Dean. She has long-standing experience working on human rights issues in a variety of settings, including for the United Nations. She has also appeared as legal counsel and/or expert before different human rights bodies, arbitral tribunals and the International Court of Justice. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Judiciary/Pages/IDPIndex.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 – Guinea-Bissau: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Judiciary/Pages/IDPIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Bissau (during the visit): Júlia Alhinho (+245 6136045; email: alhinho@un.org)
In Geneva and Bissau (before, during or after the visit): Amanda Flores (+41 79 109 6872 (during the visit) +41 22 917 9186 (before or after the visit) or write to aflores@ohchr.org – English, French or Spanish only)

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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