Weekly Briefing Note on the Work of United Nations Special Procedures

From 25 April to 1 May 2009

COMMUNICATIONS from 22 to 28 April 2009

  • 14 communications (10 Urgent Appeals and 4 Allegation Letters) sent to 12 countries
  • 11 joint communications
  • Of 14 individual cases, 4 concerned women


COUNTRY VISITS

  • From 27 April to 8 May 2009, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ms. Asma Jahangir, is conducting a visit to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Serbia, and Kosovo. During her mission, Ms. Jahangir is holding meetings with various officials responsible for matters of religion or belief, representatives of religious or belief communities, civil society organizations, United Nations and regional organizations. At the end of her mission to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Special Rapporteur issued a press statement with her preliminary remarks which is available here.
  • From 27 April to 9 May 2009, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Mr. Michel Forst, is conducting a visit to Haiti. During his mission, he will meet with government authorities, members of the civil society and of the international community. The Independent Expert will focus his visit on the question of economic and social rights.
  • From 28 to 30 April 2009, the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, Mr. Cephas Lumina, is conducting a visit to Norway, followed by a visit to Ecuador, from 1 to 9 May 2009. The full press statement announcing the visit is available here.
  • From 5 to 14 May 2009, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Manfred Nowak, will undertake an official visit to Kazakhstan. During his mission, the Special Rapporteur will meet with Government officials, national human rights institutions, civil society members and representatives of the United Nations agencies and international organizations. The full press statement announcing the visit is available here.

PREPARATION FOR VISITS

  • From 17 to 28 August, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Mr. James Anaya, will conduct an official visit to Australia.
  • The Government of Senegal accepted the request for a visit of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Ms. Najat M’jid Maala. Dates have not been agreed yet.

PUBLIC STATEMENTS

  • On 29 April 2009 the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of people to self determination issued a statement expressing their grave concern with regard to allegations that mercenaries were involved in plot against Bolivian authorities. The full press statement is available here.

HUMAN RIGHTS STORIES/POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS

Iran: On 7 and 8 April 2009 respectively, Mahboubeh Karami and Khadijeh Moghaddam were released on bail. They had been arrested, together with ten other persons, on 26 March 2009, as they prepared to make Iranian New Year visits to the families of detained activists, including students and trade unionists. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and its consequences, had taken on their case with a communication sent on 11 April 2009.

Sri Lanka: On 24 April 2009, Mr. N. Vithyatharan, the editor of the Tamil daily “Sudar oil”,.was released. Mr. Vithyatharan, who had been held by police since 26 February 2009, accused of having links with Tamil Tiger rebels, was cleared by the Colombo Criminal Division for lack of evidence. The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression had taken upon his case in a communication sent on 24 August 2006 and 25 August 2006.

United Kingdom: On 28 January 2009, Ms. Nadya Azizullah, an Afghan woman living in the UK, was recognized as a refugee by an immigration judge, as well as being a person at risk of treatment contrary to the article 3 of the ECHR. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences had taken on her case with a communication sent on 2 February 2009.

MEETINGS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES

On 27 April 2009, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Mr. Olivier de Schutter, attended in Rome the first meeting of the Contact Group, established by FAO, in order to advise on the reform of the World Committee on Food Security. He also prepared a note which contains his proposals for this reform.

From 27 to 28 April 2009, the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque, held an expert consultation on the human rights obligations related to sanitation, and a public consultation on the same topic on 29 April. The meeting discussed a wide variety of issues related to sanitation, including quality, physical accessibility, availability, acceptability, non-discrimination, participation and access to information. The meeting also considered possible definitions of sanitation in human rights terms. The inputs from the consultations will be used by the Independent Expert in drafting her next report to the Human Rights Council, which will focus on this issue.

From 20 to 22 April 2009, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Mr. James Anaya, participated in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

On 30 April 2009, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Yakin Ertürk, participated in public hearings on “Women in Turkey” organized by the Committee on Women’s rights and gender equality of the European Parliament, in Brussels.

On 30 April 2009, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Mr. Martin Scheinin, met in Geneva with the International Commission of Jurists to discuss cooperation regarding the joint study on secret detentions and also on a compilation of good practices regarding oversight of intelligence agencies in the counter terrorism context.

From 4 to 8 May 2009, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will hold its 54th session in Geneva. The Working Group will examine cases of alleged arbitrary detention, analyze thematic and country related issues, and discuss cooperation with other special procedures mandate holders. The Working Group will also hold meetings with Government delegations and engage with representatives of non-governmental organizations.

ISSUES OF INTEREST OR CONCERN TO ALL MANDATE HOLDERS

MAJOR EVENTS

The 16th Annual Meeting of special procedures mandate holders will take place in Geneva from 29 June to 3 July 2009. Letters of invitation will be sent out in early May.

The 15th Annual Meeting of special procedures mandate holders took place in Geneva from 23-27 June 2008. The report of the fifteenth Annual Meeting was submitted to the Human Rights Council at its 10th session in March 2009. More information is available here and on the SP Extranet:

DOCUMENTS/PUBLICATIONS

The report on conclusions and recommendations of special procedures (8th, 9th and 10th sessions) is now available here.

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

MEETINGS AND PROGRAMME OF WORK

The 5ht session of the UPR Working Group will take place from 4 to 15 May 2009. The 16 States to be considered at this session are the following: Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen, Afghanistan, Uruguay, Belize, Chile, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Slovakia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The 11th session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 2 to 18 June 2009.

SELECTION AND APPOINTMENT OF MANDATE HOLDERS

Nominations are made from candidates on the Public List. Nominations for the Public List can be submitted continuously, and the Public List is updated by OHCHR on a regular basis. Further information relating to the selection and appointment procedure can be found here.

The Human Rights Council will approve the appointment of five new mandate-holders at the eleventh session of the Council in June 2009: African descent (member for the Group of Western and other States); arbitrary detention (member for the Group of Western and other States); enforced disappearances (member for the Asian Group), independence of judges and lawyers and violence against women.

The deadline for submitting nominations of candidates to be considered for appointment during the June session of the Council was 8 April 2009. The Consultative Group met on 14 and 16 April to review proposed candidates. Its shortlist will be submitted to the President no later than 2 May.

Until June 2009, the members of the Consultative Group, which recommends candidates to the President, and whose members are appointed by the regional groups of the Human Rights Council but serve in their personal capacity, are:

Ambassador Alejandro Artucio, Permanent Representative of Uruguay

Ambassador Petko Draganov, Permanent Representative of Bulgaria

Ambassador Javier Garrigues Flórez, Permanent Representative of Spain

Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka

Ambassador Babacar Carlos Mbaye, Permanent Representative of Senegal

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