Statement by the President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Choi Kyonglim at the Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention


28 November 2016

Room XXIV of PdN,  28 November

Distinguished Members of the Working Group,
High Commissioner,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I am pleased to be here today to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.  I wish to thank the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for organizing this event. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to the members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for their dedication and commitment to carrying out their mandate.

Since its establishment in 1990 by the Commission on Human Rights, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has acted as a lighthouse for the families of victims of human rights violations and abuses around the world.

The large number of requests for action that the Working Group receives -- approximately 100 every month – is indeed a reflection of the importance that potential victims and their representatives attach to the Working Group.  It is also a testimony of the pressing need for the Working Group to continue its work and increase its capacity to respond to a wider range of requests. I am pleased to note that this was acknowledged by the Council in its recent resolution 33/30, which extended the mandate of the Working Group for a further period of three years.  

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Working Group has undertaken close to 50 visits to countries in all regions of the world. Through direct dialogue with the Government concerned and with civil society, such visits allow the Working Group to better understand the prevailing situation in the country as well as the underlying reasons for arbitrary deprivation of liberty. It is important for states to allow the Working Group unfettered access to sites concerned.

In this regard, I would like to recall that the Council, through its resolutions, calls on Member States to cooperate with the Working Group and give due consideration to its opinions.

I also wish to briefly address acts of reprisal and intimidation, the number of which, as noted in Council resolution 33/30, is rising. I have reiterated on several occasions that any and all acts of reprisals against persons who have cooperated or who seek to cooperate with the United Nations and its mechanisms in the field of human rights are wholly unacceptable. I would like to encourage all States to take measures to prevent alleged cases of intimidations, threats and reprisals. After all, the successful discharging of the mandate of the Working Group is dependent on the full cooperation of each State and the Council as a whole.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The mandate of the Working Group has never been as relevant and necessary as it is today. The practice of arbitrary detention has become more and more common in various contexts around the world, and it is being used to oppress fundamental rights.

As we embark on the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, we are guided by the pledge to leave no one left behind. While looking forward to a world with no one arbitrarily deprived of his or her liberty, the Council will continue to extend its support to the Working Group to enable it to effectively exercise its important mandate.   

I wish you a successful event today and the very best for the work of the Working Group.