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GENEVA - - Over 30 individual cases of detention from around the world will be examined this week in Geneva as the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention opened today its 51st session.

Among the cases the United Nations expert group will address are those of individuals detained in the context of the fight against terrorism, of irregular immigrants, as well as asylum-seekers in detention and of conscientious objectors deprived of their liberty.

During the 5-9 May session, the Working Group will also elect its Chairperson-Rapporteur and its Vice-Chairperson for the period 2008-2010. The Working Group is currently headed by Ms. Manuela Carmena Castrillo (Spain) as its Vice-Chairperson. In addition to Mr. Seyed Mohammed Hashemi (Islamic Republic of Iran), three new members have assumed their functions on 1 May 2008. They are Mr. Aslan Abashidze (Russian Federation); Mr. Roberto Garretón (Chile) and Mr. Malick Sow (Senegal). They were appointed by the Human Rights Council following the criteria governing equitable geographical distribution which apply within the United Nations.

The Working Group was established by the former Commission on Human Rights in 1991 to investigate instances of alleged arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was clarified and extended by the Commission on Human Rights in its resolution 1997/50 to cover the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. The Human Rights Council, by its resolution 6/4 adopted on 28 September 2007, confirmed the scope of the Working Group’s mandate and extended it for a further three-year period.

For more information about the Working Group, please consult OHCHR Fact-Sheet N° 26 or visit the following Internet address: