4 October 2006
Manfred Nowak, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment issued the following statement today:
As the Special Rapporteur announced on 6 July 2006 and reiterated in his statement to the Human Rights Council on 20 September 2006, he was invited by the Government of the Russian Federation to carry out a fact-finding visit from 9 to 20 October 2006, with a particular focus on the North Caucasus Republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.
However, at a very late stage in the preparations, he was informed by the Government that certain elements of his Terms of Reference for carrying out visits to detention facilities would contravene Russian Federation law, particularly with respect to carrying out unannounced visits, and holding private interviews with detainees. Since these issues could not be resolved prior to the visit, he regrets to announce that he is not in a position to proceed as planned.
The Special Rapporteur has been assured by the Government of the Russian Federation that a mutually agreeable solution will be arrived at to ensure that this important mission is carried out in the near future.
Mr. Nowak was appointed Special Rapporteur on 1 December 2004 by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. The Commission first decided to appoint a special rapporteur to examine questions relevant to torture in 1985. The mandate, since assumed under the UN Human Rights Council, covers all countries, whether or not they have ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Mr. Nowak has previously served as member of the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances; the UN expert on missing persons in the former Yugoslavia; the UN expert on legal questions on enforced disappearances; and as a judge at the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is Professor of Constitutional Law and Human Rights at the University of Vienna, and Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights.
For further information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, please visit the website: http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/torture/rapporteur/index.htm