GENEVA: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Mr. Martin Scheinin, will visit Spain from 7 to 14 May at the invitation of the Government.

Spain is a country of great interest in the context of countering terrorism due to its long history of confronting domestic terrorism and because of more recent tragic events of international terrorism. Spain has a key role to play in the global response to countering terrorism. The Special Rapporteur hopes to identify elements of best practice which illustrate that terrorism can be combated through preventive measures and the criminal justice system while fully respecting international human rights standards.

The purpose of his visit is to examine and discuss counter-terrorism laws, policies and practices, including issues regarding investigation, detention, arrest and trial of terrorist suspects, the rights of victims of terrorism and persons negatively impacted by counter terrorism measures. In Madrid, the Special Rapporteur is scheduled to have high-level meetings with government officials in the ministries of foreign affairs, the interior, defense and justice. He intends to meet with members of the judiciary who preside over terrorism cases, and to discuss the human rights impact in the context of countering terrorism with relevant legislative committees and national institutions. The Special Rapporteur will visit detention facilities where persons detained as suspects or convicted of terrorist offences are held. He will also observe criminal proceedings relevant to his mandate.

The Special Rapporteur will also travel to San Sebastian, Bilbao and Vitoria-Gastiez in the Basque Autonomous Region. During the official visit he will meet with regional government officials, lawyers and non-governmental organizations.

The Special Rapporteur plans to issue his preliminary findings during a press conference scheduled to take place on 14 May in Madrid. The Special Rapporteur will present his mission report at a future session of the Human Rights Council.

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, was renewed by Resolution 6/28 by the Human Rights Council. 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.

He is a Professor of Constitutional and International Law and Director of the Human Rights Institute at Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland.

For further information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur,

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Source: UNITED NATIONS Press release