The Special Rapporteur is mandated to conduct official visits to States. For that purpose, 114
States have issued standing invitations to all Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. For others, the Special Rapporteur requests the Government to extend an invitation for a country visit.
The purpose of country visits
These visits provide an opportunity to examine in detail the role and situation of human rights defenders in the country, to identify any problems and to make recommendations for how these could be resolved. By the nature of the mandate, the Special Rapporteur is required to look critically at the situation of defenders in a country. The visits are intended to provide an independent and impartial assessment which will then be of use to all actors in strengthening both the contribution of defenders to human rights and also their protection.
How long are the visits?
Visits usually take place over a period of between 7 and 14 days, with the duration often depending upon the size of the country, the nature of the visit or the complexity of the issues to be addressed.
What happens during a country visit?
The Special Rapporteur most often meets with the heads of State and of Government, with relevant Government ministers, representatives of national human rights institutions, UN agencies, the media, and human rights defenders themselves. The Special Rapporteur will usually begin a visit in the capital city and then continue with visits to other cities or towns, as well as to rural areas of particular relevance to the role and situation of human rights defenders.
What sort of issues are discussed during a visit?
Some of the issues that are raised during such visits include: violations committed against human rights defenders and the efforts by the authorities to protect them from such violations; the compatibility of domestic legislation with the Declaration on human rights defenders and international human rights law; and the strength of the ‘environment’ within which defenders conduct their human rights work, including freedoms of association and expression, access to funding; and so on.
What happens after the visit?
A few months after each country visit, the Special Rapporteur releases a report indicating, among other things, the main concerns and recommendations for action. The report is presented formally by the Special Rapporteur at the Human Rights Council.
Country visits reports
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Outstanding visits requested by the Special Rapporteur
- Saudi Arabia
- Sri Lanka
- The Russian Federation