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Geneva, 6 July 2007: The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will visit Equatorial Guinea from 8 to 13 July 2007 at the invitation of the Government. The Group will conduct interviews with detainees in several prisons, detention facilities and police stations in the capital Malabo and the cities of Bata and Evinayong.

The Working Group is expected to meet with senior officials of the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches including the President of the Parliament, the Presidents of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Vice-Prime Minister of Human Rights, and other ministers. The Group would also meet with the Attorney General, as well as other high-ranking officials in charge of national security, the police, and correctional services. Meetings are also scheduled with civil society representatives.

The delegation will be composed of Working Group’s members Manuela Carmena Castrillo (Spain) and Soledad Villagra de Biedermann (Paraguay), members of the Working Group’s Secretariat, and two interpreters from Geneva.

The visit to Equatorial Guinea will be the second fact-finding mission of the Working Group to an African country after its visit of South Africa in 2005. The Working Group has also carried out fact-finding missions to Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Bhutan, Canada, China, Ecuador, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Latvia, Mexico, Norway, Nepal, Nicaragua, Peru, Romania, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Viet Nam.

The former Commission on Human Rights established the Working Group in 1991 to investigate allegations of arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was extended in 1997 to cover the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. The mandate of the Working Group was assumed by the Human Rights Council through its decision 2006/102.

The Working Group is composed of five independent experts appointed according to criteria governing equitable geographical distribution. In addition to Ms. Carmena and Ms. Villagra, it is composed of its Chairperson-Rapporteur Ms. Leïla Zerrougui (Algeria); Mr. Tamás Bán (Hungary), the Working Group's Vice-Chairman, and Mr. Seyed Mohammad Hashemi (Islamic Republic of Iran).

For further information on the Working Group's mandate, please consult OHCHR's Fact Sheet N° 26: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention http://www.ohchr.org/english/about/publications/docs/fs26.htm)