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Human rights / Mercenaries: UN expert group launches first official visit to Côte d’Ivoire

GENEVA (2 October 2014) – The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will carry out an official visit to Côte d’Ivoire from 7 to 10 October 2014 to examine and assess the impacts of mercenarism on human rights in the country.

“Cote d’Ivoire has faced tremendous challenges at the turn of the century, experiencing civil conflicts which were reported to involve mercenary activities,” said human rights expert Patricia Arias who currently heads the expert group. Ms. Arias will be accompanied by Anton Katz, fellow member of the Working Group.

The Working Group, as part of its mandate given by the Human Rights Council, will also examine the situation of private military and security companies (PMSCs) and how they operate in the country.

Côte d’Ivoire was one of the countries covered in the Working Group’s report* to the Human Rights Council this year which focused on the national legislation concerning PMSCs in several countries in Asia and Francophone Africa.

During the visit, which is being conducted at the invitation of the Ivorian authorities, the experts will hold meetings in Abidjan with members of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of the State, the army, representatives of the diplomatic community and civil society organizations.

A press conference on the preliminary observations of the Working Group will be held on Friday 10 October at 2:45 p.m. in the Press Room of the UNOCI office, Ancien Hôtel Sebroko, Attécoubé, Abidjan.

The final report on the visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2015.

(*) Check the Working Group’s report (A/HRC/27/50): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Mercenaries/WGMercenaries/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx

The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was established in 2005 by the then Commission on Human Rights. It is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Patricia Arias (Chairperson-Rapporteur, Chile), Mr. Anton Katz (South Africa), Mr. Gabor Rona (United States/Hungary), Ms. Elzbieta Karska (Poland) and Mr. Saeed Mokbil (Yemen). Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Mercenaries/WGMercenaries/Pages/WGMercenariesIndex.aspx

Read the Working Group’s draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Mercenaries/WGMercenaries/Pages/WGMercenariesIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Cote d’Ivoire: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CIIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Natacha Foucard (+41 22 917 9458 / during the visit +41 79 7520481 / nfoucard@ohchr.org)
Jolene Tautakitaki (+41 22 917 9363 / during the visit +41 79 7520483 / jtautakitaki@ohchr.org) or write to mercenaries@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en