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Arbitrary Detention: UN expert group launches its first official visit to the USA

GENEVA (7 October 2016) – The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will conduct its first official visit to the United States of America to assess the situation of deprivation of liberty in the country from 11 to 24 October.

During the two-week visit, human rights experts Seong-Phil Hong, José Guevara, and Leigh Toomey will visit Washington D.C, Texas, California and Illinois, where they will engage with the authorities, civil society and other stakeholders.

The delegation will also visit places of deprivation of liberty, including prisons, immigration detention facilities, mental health institutions, and police stations, to meet with persons deprived of their liberty and to seek first-hand information on their cases.

The delegation will share with the media its preliminary observations at a press conference to be held at the UN Information Center (UN-DPI) in Washington DC (1775 K ST NW, Suite 400, Washington DC 20006). Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Working Group will present its final report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

The Working Group is comprised of five independent expert members from various regions of the world, namely: Mr. Sètondji Roland Adjovi (Benin), Chair-Rapporteur; Mr. José Guevara (Mexico), Vice-Chair on Communications; Ms. Leigh Toomey (Australia), Vice-Chair on Follow- Up; Mr. Seong-Phil Hong (Republic of Korea) and Mr. Vladimir Tochilovsky (Ukraine). The expert group was established by the Commission on Human Rights in 1991 to investigate instances of alleged arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was clarified and extended by the Commission in 1997 to cover the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. In September 2013, the Human Rights Council confirmed the scope of the Working Group's mandate and extended it for a further three-year period. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Detention/Pages/WGADIndex.aspx

The Working Groups 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. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

For more information and media inquiries, please contact:
In Washington, during the visit: Karen F. Smyth (+1 202 454 2106 / +1 301 351 0025 / smythk@un.org)
During and after the visit: Lucie Viersma (+41 79 444 3993 / +41 22 928 9380 /   lviersma@ohchr.org) or) and Yiyao Zhang (+41 79 201 0123 / + 41 22 917 96 34 / yzhang@ohchr.org) or write to wgad@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Mr. Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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