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Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Purpose of the mandate

Today, the independence of the judiciary and the free exercise of the legal profession continue to be under threat in many countries of the world. Judges, prosecutors and lawyers are subject to attacks and violations of their rights, including threats, intimidation, external interference in conducting their professional activities, arbitrary detention, prosecution, and killings.
This mandate was created to:

  • record attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers and prosecutors;
  • monitor the progress made in protecting and enhancing their independence;
  • make concrete recommendations to States and other actors;
  • identify ways to improve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession.

Over the years, the mandate has recorded a significant number of attacks against judges and prosecutors and restrictions to the free and independent exercise of their profession, and brought these allegations to the attention of the national authorities.

About the mandate

In 1994, in the light of the increasing frequency of attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers and court officials, the weakening of safeguards for the judiciary and lawyers and the gravity and the frequency of human rights violations, the Commission on Human Rights decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in resolution 1994/41. This mandate was assumed by the Human Rights Council (General Assembly resolution 60/251), and extended for one year (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. The mandate was further extended by resolutions 8/6, 17/2, 26/7, 35/11, and most recently, 44/8.

Read more about the mandate.

Current mandate holder

Mr. Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and LawyersMr. Diego García-Sayán was appointed Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in December 2016. Mr. García-Sayán was a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for two consecutive terms. He has broad experience working for multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

Read Mr. Diego García-Sayán’s full biography.

Latest thematic reports

Disciplinary measures against judges and the use of ‘disguised’ sanctions This report, presented to the General Assembly in 2020, focuses on the disciplinary proceedings against judges for alleged misconduct in the exercise of their functions. It also covers “disguised” sanctions imposed on judges with the aim of intimidating, harassing or otherwise interfering with the professional activities of judges. View report page | View document: A/75/172

The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly by judges and prosecutors. This report, presented to the 2019 Human Rights Council, examines the fundamental rights and freedoms that judges and prosecutors enjoy – and the ways in which, as public officials, their special duties and responsibilities justify the introduction of specific restrictions on their fundamental freedoms. View report page | View document: A/HRC/41/48

Latest country reports

Visit to Poland (October 2017)
View document: A/HRC/38/38/Add.1

Latest news


More press releases...

Archived news
(over 3 years old)

Calls for input

The disciplinary, civil and criminal liability of judges
CLOSED. Report due October 2020

Activities

Information note: Hungary: more needs to be done to bring legislation on administrative courts in line with international standards (Word)
8 April 2019

Information note: Drug courts pose dangers of punitive approaches encroaching on medical and health care matters (Word)
20 March 2019

Former mandate holders

Mónica Pinto (Argentina)
August 2015 - October 2016 

Ms. Gabriela Knaul (Brazil)
August 2009 - July 2015

Mr. Leandro Despouy (Argentina)
August 2003 - July 2009

Mr. Param Cumaraswamy (Malaysia)
1994 - July 2003


Special Procedures

Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
Recent thematic reports
Contact information

Diego García-Sayán
Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
Address: OHCHR-UNOG, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix,
1211 Geneve 10, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
Email: SRindependenceJL@ohchr.org