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.
Mr. Diego García-Sayán took up his functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in December 2016. He 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).
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.