United Nations Press Release
14 October 1997
Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers To Visit Belgium and the United Kingdom.
The Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Param Cumaraswamy (Malaysia) is undertaking missions to Belgium and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland during October at the invitation of their respective governments.
Mr. Cumaraswamy will be in Brussels from 14 to 18 October to meet senior government officials and members of the legal profession and the judiciary to discuss moves underway to reform the judicial system, which an investigating magistrate was removed a case.
The Special Rapporteur will meet the Prime Minister of Belgium, the Minister for Justice and the President of the Court de Cassation, the highest court of appeal.
From 20 to 30 October, Mr. Cumaraswamy will be on a fact-finding mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The purpose of the mission is to investigate complaints he received alleging intimidation and harassment of defense lawyers by the police. He will also investigate regulation which are alleged to impede the effective legal defense of clients in Northern Ireland.
In this connection, the Special Rapporteur would like to examine:
(i) The procedures relating to closed visits in prisons whereby certain prisoners designated as high risk are allowed legal visits in prisons only where the prisoner is separated from his lawyers by a transparent screen;
(ii) Complaints of intrusive surveillance into solicitors premises under the Police Act
(iii) The tension that exists in the United Kingdom between the Government and the judiciary concerning the judicial review of administrative decision.
The Special Rapporteur intends to travel to London and Belfast. He will meet with ministers, senior Government officials, judges, barristers, solicitors, non-governmental organizations and private individuals. He also anticipates visiting detention/holding centres in Northern Ireland.
The reports on both missions will be submitted to the fifty-fourth session of the Commission on Human Rights next March.
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