UN rights expert unable to carry out visit to Morocco over lack of guarantees

GENEVA (19 March 2019) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, has announced that the necessary conditions for his visit to Morocco have not been fulfilled.

“The Government of Morocco has not been able to ensure a programme of work in accordance with the needs of the mandate and the terms of reference for country visits by special procedures,” he said.

The human rights expert was scheduled to visit the country from 20 to 26 March 2019 to examine the impact of measures aimed at ensuring the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and prosecutors, and the independent exercise of the legal profession.

“It is most regrettable that the suggestions of places to visit and schedule of work were not fully taken into consideration by the Government. It is an essential precondition for the exercise of the mandate of Special Rapporteur that I am able to freely determine my priorities, including places to visit,” he said.

Under the terms of reference for visits by special rapporteurs, governments are required to guarantee and facilitate their freedom of movement and their freedom of inquiry.

The Special Rapporteur has already been in contact with the Moroccan Government and is available for further discussions to help with efforts to ensure an independent and impartial judicial system and the independent exercise of the legal profession.

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 (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.

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.