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16 January 2007

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, issued the following statement today:

“I welcome the decision of the Government of the United States of America, in a letter dated 20 December 2006, to invite me to undertake a country visit in the spring of 2007. In response, I have sent a letter to the Government suggesting dates for the second half of May 2007.

“I hope that the dates of this visit can be confirmed soon. I look forward to having an open and constructive dialogue with the Government, the judiciary, lawyers, security and law enforcement personnel, non-government organizations, civil society and all other relevant actors in order to study and discuss US counter terrorism laws, policies and practices. I intend to examine, in depth, issues regarding the detention, arrest and trial of terrorist suspects and the rights of victims of terrorism or persons negatively impacted by counter terrorism measures. I also aim to identify effective measures of preventing and countering terrorism and to formulate pertinent conclusions and concrete recommendations with the objective of helping to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the fight against terrorism.”

Mr. Scheinin accepted the appointment of Special Rapporteur by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 7 August 2005. The mandate, established by Resolution 2005/80, has since been assumed by the Human Rights Council. In this capacity, the Special Rapporteur is mandated to develop a regular dialogue and to cooperate with all relevant actors, including Governments, to exchange information, make recommendations and to identify and promote best practices on measures to counter terrorism that respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any Government and serves in his individual capacity.

Mr. Scheinin has previously served as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (1997-2004). He is currently Director at the Institute for Human Rights, Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland.

For further information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, please visit the website: http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/terrorism/rapporteur/srchr.htm