UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor will assess the situation of human rights defenders in Tajikistan during an official visit to the country from November 28 to December 9, 2022.

Press release issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) says the visit will provide an opportunity to discuss the situation of human rights defenders and key concerns and challenges faced by civil society in the country.

Lawlor reportedly said she would focus on Tajikistan’s implementation of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other relevant international human rights instruments, to ensure a favorable and enabling environment for human rights defenders to carry out their legitimate and peaceful activities to promote and protect human rights.

‘I will also examine existing and planned measures to protect human rights defenders, including legislation and policies; the overall environment for registering and administering non-governmental organizations; freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and the accessibility of legal aid,” Lawlor said.

During her visit, the expert will meet representatives of Government agencies, as well as UN officials, representatives of regional human rights mechanisms, members of civil society organizations and human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and other relevant stakeholders.

The Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference to share her preliminary observations with the media.  Access will be strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur's findings and recommendations will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2024.

Ms. Mary Lawlor (Ireland) is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.  She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Business and Human Rights in Trinity College Dublin.  She was the founder of Front Line Defenders - the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. As Executive Director from 2001-2016, she represented Front Line Defenders and had a key role in its development.  Ms. Lawlor was previously Director of the Irish Office of Amnesty International from 1988 to 2000, after becoming a member of the Board of Directors 1975 and being elected its President from 1983 to 1987.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.  Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work.  They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.