United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Established in 1994, this Special Rapporteur was created with the purpose of addressing the attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers and court officials and the link which exists between the weakening of safeguards for the judiciary and lawyers and the gravity and frequency of violations of human rights. In 2008 the UN Human Rights Council reviewed and renewed this mandate with the purpose of, among other things:

  • To identify and record not only attacks on the independence of the judiciary, lawyers and court officials but also progress achieved in protecting and enhancing their independence;
  • To identify ways and means to improve the judicial system, and make concrete recommendations;
  • To study, for the purpose of making proposals, important and topical questions of principle with a view to protecting and enhancing the independence of the judiciary and lawyers and court officials;

The Human Rights Clinic will provide research support to the UN Special Rapporteur, focusing on the thematic reports that must be submitted to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.

Project Partner: Diego García-Sayán, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Supervisor: Professor John Packer

Project Coordinator: Jordi Feo Valero


Project activities include:

In this report, the Special Rapporteur reviews his perspective on the mandate and presents specific issues of concern that he will pay particular attention to during his tenure, particularly the issue of corruption and organized crime.

In this report, the focus is the issue of issue of organized crime and its impact on the justice system. The report seeks to identify (a) the causes and factors that generate judicial corruption through organized crime; (b) the extent of corruption and its impact on the judiciary and society as a whole; and (c) the main modalities and tactics used by organized crime.

  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, “Judicial councils” to the Human Rights Council. Report No. A/HRC/38/38 (May  2, 2018).

This report focuses on the Judicial Councils. These organizations play an essential role in guaranteeing the independence and the autonomy of the judiciary. Despite the increase in the number of judicial councils in all regions of the world, there is a lack of international legal standards at the international level specifically devoted to the role, composition and functions of judicial councils. The report offers some recommendations relating to the establishment, composition and functions of judicial councils.

  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, “Bar Associations” to the United Nations General Assembly. Report No. A/73/365 (September 5, 2018).

The report focuses on the role of bar associations as an important institution to enable the free and independent exercise of the legal profession and to ensure access to justice and the protection of human rights. The report analyzes forms of interference with associations’ independence, ranging from legal or administrative obstacles to prevent lawyers from establishing or joining independent professional organizations, to different forms of control by the executive or judicial branch on the entry into or continued practice within the legal profession, and threats of disciplinary action and intimidation against the members of bar associations.

  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on " Freedom of Expression" (April 29, 2019).

In this report, the Special Rapporteur reviews his perspective on the mandate and presents specific issues of concern that he will pay particular attention to during his tenure, particularly the issue of corruption and organized crime.

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