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Media advisories Special Procedures

Bhutan: UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to conduct official visit

11 January 2019

GENEVA (11 January 2019) – A delegation from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will visit Bhutan from 14 to 25 January 2019 to assess the country’s situation regarding the deprivation of liberty.

Bhutan was the first country to welcome a visit by the Working Group in October 1994.  This was followed by a second visit in April-May 1996.

Seong-Phil Hong, Leigh Toomey and Elina Steinerte will visit various places of deprivation of liberty, including within the criminal justice system, the health system and other social care practices. The delegation will meet Government officials, civil society groups and other relevant stakeholders.

The experts will share their preliminary observations at a press conference on 25 January at 10:30 local time at the Main Conference Hall, UN House in Thimphu. Access will be strictly limited to journalists.

The Working Group will present its final report on the visit to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2019.


The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention comprises five independent experts from around the world: Mr. Seong-Phil Hong (Republic of Korea) Chair-Rapporteur; Ms. Leigh Toomey (Australia), Vice-Chair on Follow-Up; Ms. Elina Steinerte (Latvia), Vice-Chair on Communications; Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez (Mexico); and Mr. Sètondji Roland Adjovi (Benin). The Working Group was established by the Commission on Human Rights in 1991 to investigate instances of alleged arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was clarified and extended by the Commission in 1997 to cover the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. In September 2016, the Human Rights Council confirmed the scope of the Working Group's mandate and extended it for a further three-year period.

The Working Group is 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. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work. Check the Database of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

UN Human Rights country page – Bhutan

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Bhutan: Ms. Tshering Chuki (+975 2322424 (Ext. 104)/[email protected]); In Geneva (before, during and after the visit): Ms. Lucie Viersma (+41792010119 / [email protected])
Ms. Margarita Nechaeva  (+41 797520481/ [email protected]) or write to [email protected]

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Jeremy Laurence – Media Unit (+ 41 22 927 9383 / [email protected])

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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