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The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

Sigma Huda, a national of Bangladesh, was appointed as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons on 19 April 2004 by the then Commission on Human Rights for a period of three years. Special Rapporteurs enjoy the privileges and immunities necessary for the independent exercise of their functions as experts on mission under the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. The responsibility to determine whether privileges and immunities apply in a given situation is vested in the Secretary-General.

Ms. Huda is now facing a criminal trial in Bangladesh for charges of corruption.

Under the Convention, States wishing to initiate legal proceedings against Special Rapporteurs are expected to bring the matter promptly to the attention of the Secretary-General. Regrettably, the Government of Bangladesh did not do so in this case. The United Nations sought information from the Government of Bangladesh with a view to ascertaining the nature of the charges brought against Ms. Huda and their relationship to her functions as Special Rapporteur.

On the basis of the information provided by the Government, the Secretary-General has determined that the charges against Ms. Huda appear not to be related to, or otherwise fall within, her functions as Special Rapporteur. This information allows him to conclude that no immunity under the Convention is applicable in the present case. The Government of Bangladesh has been notified accordingly.

While the Organization is firmly committed to assisting States in fighting corruption, the Secretary-General trusts that, consistent with Bangladesh’s international human rights obligations, legal proceedings against Ms. Huda will respect the full range of her human rights, including her right to a fair trial, and rights relating to conditions of detention during the trial.

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