THE UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations announced on Wednesday that one of its rights experts will visit the Guantanamo Bay detention centre this month, in what will be the first "technical visit" after two decades of requests.

Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the UN special rapporteur on protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, will undertake a visit to Washington next week, and from there will head to Guantanamo. A UN expert visited Guantanamo in 2007, at the invitation of the US, but only to attend an evidentiary hearing at the military commissions tribunal.

Ni Aolain, who was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but is unpaid and does not speak for the international body, will issue a statement on her findings and recommendations following the visit.

In the following three months, Ni Aolain "will also carry out a series of interviews with individuals in the United States and abroad, on a voluntary basis, including victims and families of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and former detainees in countries of resettlement/repatriation", the statement said.

In March 2022, Ni Aolain announced she had received a "preliminary invitation" from Washington to visit Guantanamo, explaining that the parameters for the trip were still under discussion.

The UN expert has been critical of counter-extremism policies around the world, particularly in the US and UK, and said in a 2020 report that these policies have violated the rights of minorities, religious groups, and civil society advocates.