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18 March 2005 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy (E/CN.4/2005/60/Add.1)


Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers,
Leandro Despouy, submitted in accordance with
Commission on Human Rights resolution 2004/33


1. The present report supplements the main report and the mission reports presented by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers to the Commission on Human Rights. It includes:

(a) Summaries of the urgent appeals and allegation letters transmitted by the Special Rapporteur to governmental authorities between 1 January and 31 December 2004 and of the press releases issued during the same reporting period. In this connection, the Special Rapporteur wishes to emphasize that the urgent appeals and communications reflected in the report are based exclusively on information that has been transmitted to him directly. Where information was insufficient and it could not be supplemented and cross-checked, or where the information received was outside the mandate, the Special Rapporteur was not in a position to act;

(b) Summaries of all replies received from the States concerned by 31 December 2004 (including replies to cases acted upon by the Special Rapporteur in 2003 or earlier). In this connection, it may be noted that at the time of submitting this document the Special Rapporteur had received responses from the Governments of China, Columbia, Eritrea, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom to urgent appeals or communications sent during the reporting period: The Special Rapporteur regrets that these replies were either not able to be translated in time or were received after 31 December 2004, and therefore will be reflected in next year’s report to the Commission. Due to restrictions on the length of the report, the Special Rapporteur has been obliged to summarize the details of all correspondence sent and received. As a result, requests from Governments to publish their replies in their totality could regrettably not be accommodated;

(c) Wherever possible, observations or specific comments by the Special Rapporteur;

(d) In a limited number of cases, a note on recent important developments affecting the judiciary.

2. For the first time, the Special Rapporteur has included in this report two tables of statistical data for an overview of the extent and nature of the problems faced by the judiciary worldwide:

(a) Table 1 provides an overview of all actions taken by the current Special Rapporteur and his predecessor on specific situations and cases brought to their attention during the years 2003 and 2004, and of any replies received from the Government of the States concerned. It should be noted that on-site missions are not reflected in the table;

(b) Table 2 provides a tentative thematic overview of the types of problems faced by the judiciary in 2004 as reflected in the nature of the complaints brought to the Special Rapporteur’s attention. In this connection, the Special Rapporteur wishes to emphasize that the categories presented are subject to further elaboration and analysis in future reports. He would thus welcome comments and suggestions.

3. It can be seen from table 1 that no fewer than 58 States were approached in one way or the other during the last two years, with 17 communications, 107 urgent appeals and 20 allegation letters sent to the authorities of the States concerned, and that 15 press releases were also issued.

4. In the year 2004, 38 States were directly approached by the Special Rapporteur who – in addition to performing on-site missions to Kazakhstan and Brazil - sent 3 communications to 3 States, 59 urgent appeals to 28 States and 18 allegation letters to 13 States, and issued 7 press releases regarding situations in 7 States. It will be noted that, as threats to the independence of the judiciary often go hand in hand with other human rights violations, for the sake of efficiency, most of these action were taken by the Special Rapporteur jointly with other colleagues.

5. Of the 58 States with which the Special Rapporteur was in contact during the last two years, 45 offered their active cooperation by providing a response, and of the 38 States specifically contacted in 2004, 28 sent a response, and while some replies address the concerns raised more comprehensively than others, the Special Rapporteur highly appreciates the responses as they are a positive indication of a Government’s willingness to engage in a dialogue. The Special Rapporteur welcomes this attitude and encourages all other States concerned to also offer their cooperation.

6. To the Special Rapporteur’s knowledge and concern, the independence and impartiality of the judiciary is being threatened in yet other countries and territories that are not mentioned in this report. It goes without saying that he closely monitors such situations and will, if appropriate, report on them in due time.

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