GENEVA (26 April 2016) – United Nations human rights experts Mónica Pinto and Juan E. Méndez will carry out a visit to Sri Lanka from 29 April to 7 May 2016 to assess recent developments and identify challenges related to the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to the independence of the justice system.
“We are encouraged by the recent steps taken by the Government to advance respect for human rights, including their support to Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 on ‘promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers, and on torture.
“We look forward to engaging with the authorities and key actors on the challenges faced by the country to ensure the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession, due process and fair trial guarantees, and access to justice, and to eradicate torture and other ill-treatment, while promoting accountability and fulfilling victims’ right to reparations,” they said.
“Sri Lanka is at a crucial moment in its history and we hope that our recommendations will contribute to setting out a path for the future that will be fully aligned with the international human rights obligations of the country,” the Special Rapporteurs added.
The human rights experts, who visit the country at the invitation of the government, will meet with governmental authorities, members of the judiciary and prosecution services, lawyers, civil society, the National Human Rights Commission, and victims and their families.
In addition to visiting Colombo, they will spend several days in the different provinces of the country, including the Northern, North Central, Eastern, Central and Southern. Accessing places where persons are detained will also be a key component of the visit.
The two Special Rapporteurs will share their preliminary observations and recommendations at a press conference to be held on Saturday 7 May 2016, at 3pm, at the UN Conference Room, United Nations Compound, 202-204, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.
The Special Rapporteurs will each present a comprehensive report containing their findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2017 and June 2017, respectively.
Ms. Mónica Pinto took up her functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on 1 August 2015. Ms. Pinto is a professor of international law and human rights law at the Law School of the University of Buenos Aires, where she is currently the Dean. She has long-standing experience working on human rights issues in a variety of settings, including for the United Nations. She has also appeared as legal counsel and/or expert before different human rights bodies, arbitral tribunals and the International Court of Justice. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Judiciary/Pages/IDPIndex.aspx
Mr. Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2010. He has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, country page – Sri Lanka: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/LKIndex.aspx
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