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UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention elects new Chairperson-Rapporteur

01 September 2009

GENEVA – The five independent experts members of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention elected Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow, from Senegal, as its new Chairperson-Rapporteur and Ms. Shaheen Sardar Ali, from Pakistan, as its Vice-Chairperson. The Working Group also welcomed Mr. Mads Andenas, from Norway, as its new member succeeding Ms. Manuela Carmena Castrillo who completed her mandate on 31 July*.

During its weeklong 55th session, the Working Group will examine cases of alleged arbitrary detention and prepare its upcoming fact-finding mission to the Republic of Senegal scheduled for 5 to 15 September. When analyzing country-related and thematic issues, the Working Group will devote particular attention to the detention of drug users, administrative detention of migrants in an irregular situation, and secret detentions. It will also hold meetings with Government delegations and engage with representatives of the civil society.

Malick Sow has experience as magistrate in Senegal for more than 25 years and is currently the President of a chamber at the Court of Appeal in Dakar. He was the coordinator of the Senegalese Committee of Human Rights (the national human rights institution of Senegal) and chaired the Francophone Association of National Human Rights Commissions as its President between 2002 and 2007. Mr. Sow is also a member of the Follow-up Committee on the Implementation of the Robben Island Guidelines. He joined the Working Group on 1 May 2008.

Shaheen Sardar Ali, who became a member of the Working Group on 1 August 2008, is Professor of law at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and Professor II at the University of Oslo, Norway. Former responsibilities of Ms. Ali in Pakistan include Professor of law at the University of Peshawar, whose Women's Study Centre she headed as Director; Cabinet Minister in the North West Frontier Province; Chair of the National Commission on the Status of Women in Pakistan; Member of the Prime Minister's National Consultative Committee for Women; and Member of the Senate Committee on the Status of Women. She has received a number of awards including the Asian Women of Achievement Award 2005 (Public Sector) of the United Kingdom in May 2005, and the British Muslims Annual Honours achievement plaque in the House of Lords in May 2002.

The Working Group was established by the former Commission on Human Rights in 1991 to investigate instances of alleged arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was clarified and extended by the Commission on Human Rights in its resolution 1997/50 to cover the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. The Human Rights Council, by its resolution 6/4 adopted on 28 September 2007, confirmed the scope of the Working Group's mandate and extended it for a further three-year period.

The five person Working Group members also include Mr. Roberto Garretón (Chile), and Mr. Aslan Abashidze (Russian Federation).


For more information about the Working Group, please consult OHCHR Fact-Sheet N° 26 or visit:

(*) Manuela Carmena Castrillo completes her mandate (press release from 17 August 2009):

For use of the information media; not an official record