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UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to visit Colombia in October

26 September 2008

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will visit Colombia from 1 to 10 October 2008 at the invitation of the Government. The Group will hold interviews with detainees in several detention centres in the cities of Arauca, Cali and Bogotá.

The Working Group will meet with several authorities of the Executive Power, including high officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice and Defense; members of the Congress; magistrates of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Justice and the Supreme Judicial Council (CSJ) as well as other members of different levels of the Judiciary; officials of the Prosecutor General’s Office; authorities of the National Police and of the Department of Administrative Security (DAS) ; the National Prison Institute, and the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman. Meetings are also scheduled with local authorities and magistrates of the Departments of Arauca, Valle del Cauca, and Cundinamarca.

The delegation will also speak with representatives of the Bar Associations and various national and provincial non-governmental organizations; lawyers; academics and family members of persons in detention.

The Working Group will visit correctional institutes; penitentiaries; prisons; young offender centres; immigration holding facilities; detention facilities for women; psychiatric hospitals, and police stations.

A report on the visit will be considered by the Working Group at its 53rd session to be held in November 2008 in Geneva.

The delegation will be headed by Manuela Carmena, the Working Group's Chairperson-Rapporteur, and will include Roberto Garretón, member of the Group, and members of the Working Group’s Secretariat.

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 immigrants and asylum-seekers. The Human Rights Council assumed the Working Group’s mandate and extended it for a further three-year period by resolution 6/4 adopted on 28 September 2007.

The Working Group has carried out fact-finding missions to Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Belarus, Bhutan, Canada, China, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Latvia, Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, South Africa, Turkey and Viet Nam. Concerning the issue of immigrants and asylum seekers, it has visited Australia, Romania and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Working Group is composed of five independent experts appointed according to criteria governing equitable geographical distribution at the United Nations. In addition to Ms. Carmena (from Spain) and Mr. Garretón (from Chile), it is also composed of the following members: Ms. Shaheen Sardar Ali (from Pakistan); Mr. Aslan Abashidze (from the Russian Federation) and Mr. Malick Sow (from Senegal), who is the Working Group's Vice-Chairman.

For further information on the Working Group's mandate, please consult Fact Sheet N° 26: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, published by the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:

( http://www2.ohchr.org/english/about/publications/docs/fs26.htm)

For inquiries and media requests: press-info@ohchr.org