In view of the increasing frequency of attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers and court officials and the link between the weakening of safeguards for the judiciary and lawyers and the gravity and frequency of violations of human rights, the Commission on Human rights appointed a Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur comprises 3 parts:

a)Allegation letters and urgent appeals

The Special Rapporteur acts on information submitted to his attention regarding alleged violations of 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 to their attention these cases.

When receiving credible information, the Special Rapporteur will transmit the allegation to the concerned Government in order to obtain a response. The credibility of the source is established by reference to the degree of detail presented by the alleged victim about him or herself and the event or interference alleged; corroborative sources; logic; the laws in force in the concerned State.

In cases where the alleged violations are time-sensitive in terms of involving loss of life, life-threatening situations or either imminent or ongoing damage of a very grave nature to victims, the Special Rapporteur will send an urgent appeal to the concerned Government.

b)Country visits

In order to assess the situation of the judiciary and the legal system, the Special Rapporteur conducts country visit upon invitation of the Government. When necessary, the Special Rapporteur make recommendations for the improvement of the judicial and legal system. The findings, conclusions and recommendations are then presented in a report to the Human Rights Council.

A country visit can be initiated in two ways: through a request by the Special Rapporteur to the Government concerned to visit or by a Government directly inviting the Special Rapporteur. In both cases, the Government’s consent must be given before the mission takes place.

c)Annual report

Annually, the Special Rapporteur reports to the Human Rights Council about the activities undertaken during the year, highlighting important issues or areas of concern. The Special Rapporteur also reports annually to the General Assembly.

GICJ Newsletter