Image: Welikada prison, Colombo, Sri Lanka ( AI photo)
GENEVA (29 November 2017) – A three-member delegation from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will carry out an official visit to Sri Lanka from 4 to 15 December 2017 to assess the country’s situation regarding the deprivation of liberty.
José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Leigh Toomey and Elina Steinerte will visit a variety of places where people are held, including prisons, police stations and institutions for juveniles, migrants and people with psychosocial disabilities, to gather first-hand information which will form part of their overall assessment.
The delegation will visit Colombo as well as western, north-central, northern, eastern, southern and central provinces, where they will meet Government officials, civil society groups and other relevant stakeholders.
The experts will share their preliminary observations at a press conference on 15 December 2017 at 14:00 local time at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 07. Access will be strictly limited to journalists.
The Working Group will present its final report on the visit to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention comprises five independent experts from around the world: Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez (Mexico), Chair-Rapporteur; Ms. Leigh Toomey (Australia), Vice-Chair on Follow-Up; Ms. Elina Steinerte (Latvia), Vice-Chair on Communications; Mr. Sètondji Roland Adjovi (Benin) and Mr. Seong-Phil Hong (Republic of Korea). The expert group was established by the Commission on Human Rights in 1991 to investigate instances of alleged arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was clarified and extended by the Commission in 1997 to cover the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. In September 2016, the Human Rights Council confirmed the scope of the Working Group’s mandate and extended it for a further three-year period.
The Working Groups 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. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.