UN experts on torture and the independence of the justice system to visit Sri Lanka

UN (OHCHR)The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mónica Pinto, and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, will undertake a joint visit to Sri Lanka from 29 April to 7 May 2016, to assess recent developments and identify challenges related to the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to the independence of the justice system.

“We are encouraged by the recent steps taken by the Government to advance respect for human rights, including their support to Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 on ‘promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,”  the UN Special Rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers, and on torture said.

“We look forward to engaging with the authorities and key actors on the challenges faced by the country to ensure the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession, due process and fair trial guarantees, and access to justice, and to eradicate torture and other ill-treatment, while promoting accountability and fulfilling victims’ right to reparations,” they said.

“Sri Lanka is at a crucial moment in its history and we hope that our recommendations will contribute to setting out a path for the future that will be fully aligned with the international human rights obligations of the country,” the Special Rapporteurs added.

The human rights experts, who visit the country at the invitation of the government, will meet with governmental authorities, members of the judiciary and prosecution services, lawyers, civil society, the National Human Rights Commission, and victims and their families.

In addition to visiting Colombo, they will spend several days in the different provinces of the country, including the Northern, North Central, Eastern, Central and Southern. Accessing places where persons are detained will also be a key component of the visit.

The two Special Rapporteurs will inform of their preliminary observations and recommendations at a press conference  on 7 May 2016, at the UN Conference Room, United Nations Compound, Colombo. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteurs will each present a comprehensive report containing their findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2017 and June 2017, respectively. (OHCHR)

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