Poland: UN expert to assess independence of justice system during visit

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GENEVA (19 October 2017) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Diego García-Sayán will carry out an official visit to Poland from 23-27 October 2017, to assess the impact of the constitutional crisis on the composition and functioning of the country’s constitutional tribunal and the implications of the Government’s extensive reform of the judicial system.

I intend to examine in detail various amendments to the law governing the constitutional tribunal, and their impact on its role as guarantor of the constitution,” said the Special Rapporteur, who monitors and reports on the independence of judges and lawyers.

“I also intend to establish a constructive dialogue with the Government on the judicial reforms currently under way, to assess their consistency with international human rights standards, such as the independence of the judiciary and the principle of separation of powers,” added the Special Rapporteur, who voiced his concerns about the reforms in July. 

During his visit to Poland, at the invitation of the authorities, Mr. García-Sayán will meet government and legislative authorities, judges, lawyers and prosecutors. He will also meet representatives from civil society, academia, UN agencies, regional organisations, and the diplomatic community.

The Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference on Friday 27 October to present his preliminary observations at the end of his visit. The press conference will be held at 12:00 local time at the United Nations Information Centre, Piêkna Str 19, 4th floor, Warsaw. Access will be strictly limited to journalists.

He will present a comprehensive report containing his findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2018.

ENDS

Mr. Diego García-Sayán took up his functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in December 2016. Mr. García-Sayán was formerly a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for two consecutive terms. During his tenure, he was elected Vice-President of the Court (2008-2009) and President of the Court for two consecutive terms (2009-2013). He has long-standing experience working on human rights issues in a variety of settings, including for the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Among others, he was: Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Peace Agreements at El Salvador and for the subsequent verification of the agreements reporting directly to the Security Council; member and Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances during several years; member of the Redesign Panel on the United Nations System of Administration of Justice, appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2006; Head of the Electoral Mission of the Organisation of American States (OAs) in Guatemala during the general elections (2007). 

Read the Independent Expert’s first report to the UN Human Rights Council.

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 – Poland

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Warsaw (during the visit): Stefano Sensi (email: ssensi@ohchr.org)
In Geneva (before, during or after the visit): Alessandro Marra (email: amarra@ohchr.org during the visit) Stefano Sensi (email: ssensi@ohchr.org before or after the visit) – English, French or Spanish only)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org

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