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Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Please, read the general remarks about the special procedures first.

Rights and Intended Situations

The Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers has been established in 1994. His mandate refers to the right to an effective remedy, right to a fair trial and more generally to the independence and the proper functioning of the judicial power in every state.

Implementation of the Procedure: Filing a Complaint

The complaint must contain at least the following information:

  • Identity of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the inquiry;
  • Full name, age, sex and place of residence or origin of the supposed victim;
  • Indication of as many details as possible (name, age, sex and place of residence or origin) if it refers to a group or community;
  • Date and place of the incident (approximately, if the exact date is unknown)
  • Detailed description of the circumstances of the incident under which the presumed violation took place;
  • Identity of the suspect(s) (name if known, title/position, presumed motivation);
  • As the case may be, measures taken at the national level (for example, if the police had been informed, in case that other national authorities are involved, as well as a possible position of the government);
  • As the case may be, measures taken at the international level (for example, if other mechanisms have been called up)

Information and completed questionnaires can be submitted (specifying the pertinent special procedure) to:

Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 90 03
E-mail: urgent-action(at)

Consequences of the Complaint

Once the Special Rapporteur received credible information concerning an improper functioning of a state’s judicial power, he can address a communication, generally in form of a letter submitted by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to the government concerned asking it to give information concerning the allegation and to take preventive measures or to initiate an investigation. The communications can deal with cases of individuals, groups or communities, the general trends and development of human rights violations in certain countries as well as draft law or law in force subjected to apprehension. The communications are generally made in form of “urgent appeals” or “letters of allegation”. When there are multiple mandates for one case, the Special Rapporteur can submit joint communications.

“Urgent appeals” are used to provide information concerning current or imminent violations. They are submitted to inform the competent authorities as quickly as possible so that these can intervene to stop the human rights violation or to prevent it.

“Letters of allegation” are used to provide information concerning violations which have already taken place and which have had irreversible consequences for the supposed victim. This type of communication is used, for example, when the Special Rapporteur receives information on violations which have already been committed.

With both types of communication, the Special Rapporteur asks the concerned government to take all appropriate measures to investigate and remedy the alleged violations and to submit the results of its intervention. According to the response, the Special Rapporteur can decide to pursue the investigation or to give recommendations.

Last change: 16.12.08 - 16:05