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Three new members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to start functions on 1 May 2008

30 April 2008

GENEVA--. Three new members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Messrs. Aslan Abashidze, Malick Sow and Roberto Garretón, will take up their new functions as of 1 May 2008.

The Working Group has been entrusted with the investigation of instances of alleged arbitrary deprivation of liberty, according to the standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the relevant international instruments accepted by the States concerned. Its mandate also covers the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. By its resolution 6/4 adopted on 28 September 2007, the Human Rights Council confirmed the scope of the Working Group’s mandate and extended it for a further three-year period.

The Working Group is composed of five independent experts appointed according to criteria governing equitable geographical distribution which apply within the United Nations. It is headed by Ms. Manuela Carmena Castrillo (Spain) as its current Vice-Chairperson and, in addition to its new members, is composed of Mr. Seyed Mohammed Hashemi (Islamic Republic of Iran).

Mr. Aslan Abashidze (Russian Federation) is the Director of the Centre for Innovations in Education and Legal Research at the People’s Friendship University of the Russian Federation in Moscow and a professor of international human rights law at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Mr. Abashidze is author of more than 170 articles and papers on international law and has been the Head of the International Law Commission of the United National Association of Russia as well as a member of the legal editorial boards. Mr. Abashidze will replace Mr. Tamás Bán (Hungary), who was Vice-Chair of the Working Group until November 2007.

Mr. Malick Sow (Senegal) has been a Magistrate during the last 20 years. He is Coordinator of the Senegalese Committee of Human Rights (the Senegal national human rights institution) and is the President of the Francophone Association of National Human Rights Commissions. Mr. Sow is also a member of the Follow-up Committee on the Implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines. Mr. Sow will replace Ms. Leïla Zerrougui (Algeria), the former Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group.

Mr. Roberto Garretón (Chile) is a founding member of the Working Group having served in that capacity until 2000. From 1994 to 2001, he was Special Rapporteur of the former Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Between 2001 and 2004, Mr. Garretón was a Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for Latin America and the Caribbean. During the Pinochet dictatorship he was a lawyer at the Vicariate for Solidarity. He has headed several missions on human rights; carried out teaching activities and published books and numerous articles on the topic. Mr. Garretón will replace Ms. Soledad Villagra de Biedermann (Paraguay), who became a member of the Working Group in 2000.

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