UN expert to visit Ecuador next week to study crisis facing independent

UN Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Leandro Despouy, had originally wanted to visit Ecuador in February, citing urgent concerns over judicial independence after a move by Congress to replace 27 of the 31 Supreme Court judges with magistrates of its own choosing and the resignation of the court’s president.But the Government suggested the first week of May, due to reasons of availability. After further requests from Mr. Despouy, the Government agreed to a visit before he presents his reports to the Commission on 1 April.The trip will now take place from 13 to 17 March, during which the Rapporteur will meet with President Lucio Gutierrez, various ministers and other senior officials at national and local levels, and judges from courts at various levels, as well as with judicial associations, university chancellors and professors, international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).In a statement last week announcing the Government’s agreement to move up the visit, Mr. Despouy said he was undertaking the visit “in light of the serious crisis affecting the Ecuadorian judiciary, in particular in the context of measures adopted with regard to the Supreme Court and the Constitutional and Electoral Courts.“In the view of the Special Rapporteur, such measures could irreversibly affect the independence of the judiciary in Ecuador,” he added.

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