The right to challenge the legality of arbitrary detention: UN expert panel to develop new guiding principles

GENEVA (12 November 2013) – The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention* will meet in Geneva from 13 to 22 November 2013 to further develop foundations for the draft guiding principles on the right of anyone deprived of his or her liberty to challenge the legality of the detention in court.
“The right to have the detention reviewed in court without delay is a fundamental component of the right to liberty and security of person,” said human rights expert El Hadji Malick Sow, who currently heads the five-member body. “Our aim is to develop concrete and practical guidance for Member States in fulfilling their obligations to respect, protect and promote this fundamental right”. 

In July 2012, the UN Human Rights Council requested the Working Group to draft basic principles and guidelines aimed at assisting Member States in fulfilling their obligation to avoid arbitrary deprivation of liberty. A report comprising the draft basic principles and guidelines will be presented to the Human Rights Council in 2015.

In preparation for these guiding principles, the experts sent a questionnaire to Member States, UN human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions and civil society organizations to gather information on different national laws, regulations and practices related to this right and to seek their views on the essential aspects of the State obligations to achieve the full realization of this right. 

During its 68th session, the group of human rights experts will also discuss more than 30 confidential cases concerning 23 different countries, as well as work on various issues relating to deprivation of liberty and forthcoming country visits and communications from States.

In 2012, the expert panel adopted 69 Opinions concerning 198 persons in 37 States. It also transmitted 104 urgent appeals to 44 Governments concerning 606 individuals, including 56 women. Governments and sources reported that 21 persons were released. In other cases, the expert body was assured that the detainees concerned would be guaranteed a fair trial. Check the Working Group’s data base:

The Working Group was established by the former Commission on Human Rights in 1991 to investigate instances of alleged arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was clarified and extended by the Commission to cover the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. In 2010, the Human Rights Council confirmed the scope of the Working Group's mandate and extended it for a further three-year period in 2013. Learn more, log on to:

(*) The Working Group is comprised of five independent expert members from various regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow (Senegal) and the Vice-Chair is Ms. Shaheen Sardar Ali (Pakistan). Other members include Mr. Mads Andenas (Norway), Mr. Roberto Garretón (Chile) and Mr. Vladimir Tochilovsky (Ukraine).

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