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UN rights expert in first visit to Qatar to assess independence of the justice system

GENEVA (15 January 2014) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul will carry out an official visit to the State of Qatar from 19 to 26 January 2014, to assess the independence of judges, lawyers, and prosecutors, as well as the functioning of the justice system.

“My visit will focus on both the achievements and shortcomings of the country in ensuring the independence of the judiciary and the free exercise of the legal profession,” Ms. Knaul said while announcing the first visit to Qatar by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the independence of judges and lawyers.

“I will also concentrate on key-issues regarding the administration of justice, such as guarantees of due process and fair trial, equal access to justice and legal aid, the position of women in the justice system, accountability processes for judicial actors, and issues related to the independence of judges of foreign nationality,” explained the expert, who visits the country at the invitation of the Government.

During her eight-day visit, Ms. Knaul will meet with representatives from the Government and the legislative branch, as well as judges, prosecutors and lawyers. She will also meet with representatives from the National Human Rights Committee, civil society, academia, UN agencies and the diplomatic community in Doha.

Based on the information collected during the visit, the Special Rapporteur will prepare a report to be presented to the Human Rights Council.

At the end of the visit on Sunday 26 January, Ms. Knaul will hold a press conference to present her preliminary observations at 12 noon at the UN Human Rights Training and Documentation Center for South West Asia and the Arab Region, located at 66 Lusail Street, West Bay, Doha.

The Special Rapporteur will then carry out an official country visit to the United Arab Emirates from 28 January to 5 February 2014.

Gabriela Knaul took up her functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on 1 August 2009. In that capacity, she acts independently from any Government or organization. Ms. Knaul has a long-standing experience as a judge in Brazil and is an expert in criminal justice and the administration of judicial systems.
Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Judiciary/Pages/IDPIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Qatar: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/QAIndex.aspx

Check the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/IndependenceJudiciary.aspx

For additional information and media requests, please contact:
In English or French: Amanda Flores (+41 22 917 91 86 (before the visit) / +41 79 201 0119 (mobile - during the visit) / or write to aflores@ohchr.org)
In English or Arabic (during the visit only): Farid Hamdan (+974 44932544 or +974 44935791 (ext. 03) / +974 5585 4932 (mobile) / or write to fhamdan@ohchr.org)  

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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