UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Disagreement with the Russian government over detention facility visits has caused U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak to postpone his trip.
Although he was invited to investigate detention centers in the Russian Federation, officials took issue with Nowak potentially "carrying out unannounced visits and holding private interviews with detainees."
A statement by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which appointed Nowak, said Wednesday: "The special rapporteur has been assured ... a mutually agreeable solution will be arrived at to ensure that this important mission is carried out in the near future."
During fact-finding missions, special rapporteurs ask the government they visit for certain guarantees.
In particular, an emphasis is placed on freedom of inquiry. As their procedures state, "confidential and unsupervised contact with witnesses and other private persons (is) considered necessary to fulfill the mandate of the special rapporteur."
Special rapporteurs are independent of any nation and typically carry out visits after being invited to do so by a government.
Nowak is not unfamiliar with uncooperative countries when it comes to torture investigations. He faced similar objections from the U.S. government earlier this year over requests to inspect detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Since an initial request was made on June 25, 2004, no U.N. official has been granted private interviews with detainees or unrestricted access to the camp.
Over the last two years, Manfred Nowak has investigated torture allegations in five countries, including China. Still pending are visits to 31 countries with some first requests stretching as far back as 1993.