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Human rights and counter-terrorism: UN expert launches first mission to Belgium

GENEVA (23 May 2018) – UN rights expert Fionnuala Ní Aoláin will visit Belgium from 24 to 31 May to gather information on counter-terrorism initiatives and assess how they affect the promotion and protection of human rights.

UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism will examine and discuss counter-terrorism laws, policies and practices, including issues regarding investigation, detention, arrest and trial of terrorist suspects, the rights of victims of terrorism and persons negatively impacted by counter terrorism measures.

“I will seek to learn about and discuss the country’s counter-terrorism policy and legal framework, with a view to ensuring that measures taken by the Government are in compliance with international human rights law,” said Ms Ní Aoláin.

During her eight-day mission, Ms Ní Aoláin is scheduled to have high-level meetings with Government representatives, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Security and the Interior, Justice, and of Finance, the Minister-Presidents of Flanders, the Walloon Region and of the French Community of Belgium. She is also expected to engage with the judiciary, law enforcement, prosecutors, oversight bodies and parliamentarians. Ms Ní Aoláin, whose first official visit to Belgium is at the invitation of the Government, will also meet with victims of terrorism and of human rights violations, representatives of civil society, lawyers and academics. In addition, she will go to places of detention relevant to her mandate.

At the end of her visit, on 31 May at 15:00, Ms Ní Aoláin will share her preliminary observations with the media at a news conference at the offices of the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC) (Wetstraat / Rue de la Loi 155, 1040 Brussels). Copies of her end-of-mission statement and press release will be available in English and French. Access to the news conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report of her findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2019.


Ms Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin (Ireland), the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, took up her functions on 1 August 2017. She is a University Regents Professor at the University of Minnesota; holder of the Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy, and Society; and faculty director of the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota Law School. She is concurrently a Professor of Law at the University of Ulster’s Transitional Justice Institute in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and is co-founder and associate director of the Institute.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page - Belgium

For more information and media requests please contact Mr. Sharof Azizov (+41 22 917 9748 / sazizov@ohchr.org) or write to srct@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Jeremy Laurence – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)  

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: http://www.standup4humanrights.org.