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About the mandate

Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

In 1994, the Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 1994/41, noting both the increasing frequency of attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers and court officials and the link which exists between the weakening of safeguards for the judiciary and lawyers and the gravity and frequency of violations of human rights, decided to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. Like other Special Procedures, this mandate was assumed by the Human Rights Council (General Assembly resolution 60/251), and extended for one year, subject to the review to be undertaken by the Council (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 resolution 8/6, resolution 17/2, resolution 26/7 and resolution 35/11. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur was most recently extended for another period of three years by Human Rights Council resolution 44/8.

As per his/her mandate, the Special Rapporteur is requested:

(a) To inquire into any substantial allegations transmitted to him or her and to report his or her conclusions and recommendations thereon;

(b) To identify and record not only attacks on the independence of the judiciary, lawyers and court officials but also progress achieved in protecting and enhancing their independence, and make concrete recommendations, including the provision of advisory services or technical assistance when they are requested by the State concerned;

(c) To identify ways and means to improve the judicial system, and make concrete recommendations thereon;

(d) To study, for the purpose of making proposals, important and topical questions of principle with a view to protecting and enhancing the independence of the judiciary and lawyers and court officials;

(e) To apply a gender perspective in his or her work;

(f) To continue to cooperate closely, while avoiding duplication, with relevant United Nations bodies, mandates and mechanisms and with regional organizations;

(g) To report regularly to the Council in accordance with its programme of work, and annually to the General Assembly.

In the discharge of these functions:

(a) The Special Rapporteur acts on information submitted to his/her attention concerning alleged violations relating to the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and the independence of the legal profession by sending allegation letters and urgent appeals to concerned Governments to clarify and/or bring these cases to their attention. See Individual Complaints. The communications sent by the Special Rapporteur (both urgent appeals and allegations letters) are published in the next communication report of special procedures.

See Communications reports and Comments on legislation and policy.

(b) The Special Rapporteur conducts country visits upon the invitation of the relevant Government. The Special Rapporteur submits a report on the visit to the Human Rights Council, presenting his/her findings, conclusions and recommendations. See Country Visits.

(c) The Special Rapporteur presents annual thematic reports to the Human Rights Council (June session) and the General Assembly highlighting important issues or areas of concern related to the mandate. See Annual Reports.