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8 February 2006

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will visit Ecuador from 13 to 23 February 2006 at the invitation of the Government. The Group will hold interviews with detainees in detention centres in the cities of Cuenca, Guayaquil and Quito.

The Working Group will also meet with representatives of the executive power, including senior officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior (Gobernación), and Justice, as well as with members of the country’s legislature, magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, other members of the judiciary, officials from the Prosecuting Authority; and authorities of the National and Judicial Police. Meetings are also scheduled with authorities of the Provinces of Azuay, Guayas and Pichincha., which the Group will visit.

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

The Working Group will visit prisons, correctional facilities for young offenders, detention facilities for women, police stations and immigration holding centres.

The Working Group will adopt a report on the at its forty-fifth session next May in Geneva.

The delegation to Ecuador will be headed by Leïla Zerrougui, the Working Group's Chairperson-Rapporteur, and will include Soledad Villagra de Bierdermann, member of the Group; as well as members of the Working Group’s Secretariat.

The 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. It has carried out fact-finding missions to Argentina, Bahrain, Belarus, Bhutan, Canada, China, Indonesia, Iran, Latvia, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, South Africa and Viet Nam. Concerning the issue of immigrants and asylum seekers, it has visited Australia, Romania and the United Kingdom.

The Working Group is composed of five independent experts appointed according to criteria governing equitable geographical distribution. In addition to Ms. Zerrougui (Algerian) and Ms. Villagra (Paraguayan), it is also composed of the following members: Tamás Bán (Hungarian), the Working Group's Vice-Chairman, Manuela Carmena Castrillo (Spanish) and Seyyed Mohammad Hashemi (Iranian).

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://www.ohchr.org/english/about/publications/docs/fs26.htm)