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Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Introduction

High
Mrs. Gabriela Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
© SR

In 1994, the Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 1994/41, noting both the increasing frequency of attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers and court officials and the link which exists between the weakening of safeguards for the judiciary and lawyers and the gravity and frequency of violations of human rights, decided to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. Like other Special Procedures, this mandate was assumed by the Human Rights Council (General Assembly resolution 60/251), and extended for one year, subject to the review to be undertaken by the Council (Human Rights Council decision 2006/102).

In June 2008, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers was subject to review undertaken by the Human Rights Council and extended for a period of three years. In resolution 8/6, the Human Rights Council recalled earlier Commission on Human Rights resolutions, including 1994/41, 1995/36, 2002/37 and 2005/33, and General Assembly resolutions, including 40/32 and 45/166. In resolution 17/2, the Human Rights Council recalled its resolutions 8/6, 12/3, 13/19 and 15/3 and decided to further extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a period of three years and requested the Special Rapporteur:

(a) To inquire into any substantial allegations transmitted to him or her and to report his or her conclusions and recommendations thereon;

(b) To identify and record not only attacks on the independence of the judiciary, lawyers and court officials but also progress achieved in protecting and enhancing their independence, and make concrete recommendations, including the provision of advisory services or technical assistance when they are requested by the State concerned;

(c) To identify ways and means to improve the judicial system, and make concrete recommendations thereon;

(d) To study, for the purpose of making proposals, important and topical questions of principle with a view to protecting and enhancing the independence of the judiciary and lawyers and court officials;


(e) To apply a gender perspective in his or her work;

(f) To continue to cooperate closely, while avoiding duplication, with relevant United Nations bodies, mandates and mechanisms and with regional organizations;

(g) To report regularly to the Council in accordance with its programme of work, and annually to the General Assembly.

In the discharge of these functions:

(a) The Special Rapporteur acts on information submitted to his attention regarding alleged violations regarding the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and the independence of the legal profession by sending allegation letters and urgent appeals to concerned Governments to clarify and/or bring to their attention these cases. The Special Rapporteur summarizes these communications as well as replies received from Governments in an annual report to the Human Rights Council in which he/she also comments on various country situations. See Individual Complaints

(b) The Special Rapporteur conducts country visits upon the invitation of the Government. The Special Rapporteur submits a report of such visit to the Human Rights Council, presenting his findings, conclusions and recommendations. See Country Visits

(c) Annually, the Special Rapporteur reports to the Human Rights Council about the activities undertaken during the year, highlighting important issues or areas of concern. The Special Rapporteur also reports annually to the General Assembly. See Annual Reports

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Contact us

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
8-14 Avenue de la Paix 1211
Geneva 10 Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
E-mail: SRindependenceJL@ohchr.org

Special Rapporteur

Ms. Gabriela Knaul (Brazil),
since August 2009

Previous Special Rapporteurs

Mr. Leandro Despouy (Argentina),
from August 2003 until end of July 2009

Mr. Param Cumaraswamy (Malaysia),
1994 - July 2003


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