UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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UN EXPERT INVITED TO OBSERVE
MILITARY COMMISSION HEARINGS
AT GUANTANAMO BAY

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The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, issued the following statement today:

Geneva, 3 December 2007: - - The Special Rapporteur welcomes the invitation extended by the Government of the United States of America for him to attend and observe military commission hearings scheduled to commence on 5 December 2007 at Guantanamo Bay.

This official trip is in follow up to the Special Rapporteur’s country visit to the United States in May 2007.

It is expected that the Special Rapporteur will have the opportunity to observe an evidentiary hearing regarding the case of United States v. Hamdan. Mr. Hamdan, a Yemeni national, was captured in Afghanistan during hostilities in 2001. He has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 and has been charged under the Military Commissions Act with conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism.

The Special Rapporteur’s mission report on the United States is expected to be presented and considered by the resumed sixth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 12 December. In addition to the presentation of his reports, the Special Rapporteur will report orally on his observations regarding his trip to Guantanamo Bay.

The USA mission report (A/HRC/6/17/Add.3) and other reports of the Special Rapporteur that will be presented at the upcoming session of the Human Rights Council are available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/6session/reports.htm

Mr. Scheinin accepted the appointment of Special Rapporteur by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 7 August 2005. The mandate, established by Resolution 2005/80, has since been assumed by the Human Rights Council. In this capacity, the Special Rapporteur is mandated to develop a regular dialogue and to cooperate with all relevant actors, including Governments, to exchange information, make recommendations and to identify and promote best practices on measures to counter terrorism that respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any Government and serves in his individual capacity.

Mr. Scheinin has previously served as a member of the Human Rights Committee (1997-2004). He is currently Director at the Institute for Human Rights, Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland.

For further information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, please visit the website: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/terrorism/rapporteur/srchr.htm or please contact the Special Rapporteur's assistant Ms Sonia Cronin at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at +41 22 917 9160 or by email: scronin@ohchr.org