Tunisia: high-level UN human rights mission to start Thursday

By | 27 January 2011

Geneva – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced Wednesday that a team of top-level specialists from her Office (OHCHR) is currently assembling in Tunisia, and will officially start a week-long assessment of human rights priorities on Thursday. The team will meet with the interim authorities, civil society groups, UN agencies on the ground and other key actors.

“Human rights abuses were at the heart of the problems faced by the people of Tunisia. Therefore, human rights must be at the forefront of the solutions to those problems,” Pillay said.

“The OHCHR team will explore possibilities for the advancement of human rights in Tunisia and seek to gain a first-hand understanding of the human rights challenges,” the High Commissioner added. “Its observations and recommendations will enable me to put together a set of concrete proposals for immediate and future action to improve the human rights situation in the country. It is important that we maintain the positive momentum established by the recent dramatic transformation of the political situation.”

While several members of the team have already arrived in Tunisia, the mission will officially commence on Thursday 27 January, when the entire team has assembled in Tunis, and continue until 2 February.

The eight-strong team will include four highly experienced senior human rights specialists along with two additional staff with specialized knowledge of North Africa and the Middle East, as well as logistics and security officers.

The team leader is Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director of OHCHR’s  Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division. The other senior members are Mona Rishmawi, OHCHR’s Chief of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch; Francesca Marotta, Chief of the Methodology, Education and Training Section; and Frej Fenniche, Chief of the Middle East & North Africa Section.

The UN human rights chief announced the high-level mission last week in a keynote statement delivered at a press briefing in Geneva, where she also urged the international community to give strong support to the Tunisian people’s call for freedom and the full respect of human rights for everyone in the country.

“I will continue to closely watch the situation in Tunisia,” Pillay said, “and do all I can to ensure that the human rights aspirations of the Tunisian people are finally achieved, and their sacrifices are not in vain.”

Media inquiries: please contact Ms. Khawla Mattar who is travelling with the mission (Mob: +20 12 391 9236 –  email: khawla.mattar@unic-eg.org );   or Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva (+ 41 22 917 9767, rcolville@ohchr.org )

OHCHR Country Page – Tunisia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/TNIndex.aspx
Learn more about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HighCommissioner.aspx

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