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14 May 2008

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Leandro Despouy, will visit the Russian Federation from 19 to 29 May 2008 at the invitation of the Government.

The Special Rapporteur will examine the progress made to date in the country in the implementation of judicial reforms and the protection of human rights through the court system. Among the main issues, the Special Rapporteur will study the independence of judges, prosecutors and lawyers; their professional training; the level of access of the population to, and equality in, the justice system; and respect of fair trial guarantees. He will make recommendations to assist the Government in pursuing its ongoing judicial reform programme and explore additional avenues to strengthen the independence and effectiveness of the judiciary.

During the mission, the Special Rapporteur will visit Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg to meet with a number of high-ranking government officials, judges from various levels of courts, representatives of the office of the Prosecutor General, judicial and bar associations, national human rights institutions, academics, international and non-governmental organizations.

The Special Rapporteur will submit his findings and recommendations in a report to the Human Rights Council.

Mr. Despouy, President of the Auditoría-General of Argentina, which audits the country's public service, was appointed Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in September 2003. He has extensive experience in human rights and international humanitarian law and has held a number of high-level positions in the United Nations and the Government of Argentina.

For more information on the visit please call + 41 22 917 9158, or write to jraue@ohchr.org until 16 May and thereafter contact + 41 22 917 9377 or vlozano@ohchr.org.