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UN rights expert in first visit to Honduras

GENEVA / TEGUCIGALPA (14 August 2019) – UN Special Rapporteur Diego García-Sayán will carry out an official visit to Honduras from 16-22 August 2019 to assess the status of the independence of judges and prosecutors, and of the free exercise of the legal profession, along with measures adopted by the Government to guarantee judicial independence.

The UN expert will consider various forms of threats and issues faced by judges, prosecutors and lawyers in the exercise of their duties, as well as measures adopted by the State to mitigate the risks to which legal professionals and members of their families are exposed. He will also analyse the impact that corruption in public and private institutions may have on the independence of the judiciary.

“Far too many people from the legal profession in Honduras are threatened or have lost their lives at the hands of corruption and organised crime, and the vast majority of these crimes remain unpunished. This is simply not acceptable in a State governed by the rule of law,” said García-Sayán, who was designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the independence of judges and lawyers.

The Special Rapporteur expressed concern last year that civil society had been excluded from the most important deliberations of the selection process for a new Prosecutor-General and the Assistant Prosecutor-General in Honduras.

“I intend to establish a constructive dialogue with the Government on measures to ensure that the selection and appointment of Supreme Court judges, the Prosecutor-General and the Assistant Prosecutor-General are based on objective criteria previously established by law, and that top judges and prosecutors are selected solely on the basis of merit, having regard to the qualifications, skills and capacities of the candidates, as well as their integrity, independence and impartiality,” he said.

During his visit, the expert will meet Government officials and legislative authorities, as well as judges, prosecutors and lawyers. He will also meet representatives of civil society, academia, UN agencies, donors and the diplomatic community.

At the end of the visit on Thursday 22 August 2019, García-Sayán will hold a press conference to present his preliminary observations. It will be held at 11:00 local time at Hotel Clarion, Salón Madrid 1. Access will be strictly limited to accredited journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report containing his findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2020.

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