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First official visit to Mauritania by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture

GENEVA (21 January 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Juan E. Méndez will visit Mauritania from 25 January to 3 February 2016 to assess developments and identify challenges regarding the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Special Rapporteur’s first official visit to Mauritania takes place as the country faces security challenges linked to terrorist threats and attempts in the Sahel region and must also cope with its role as a transit destination for many migrants from neighboring countries and sub-Saharan Africa.

“My primary task is to engage with decision-makers and key actors to help the authorities uphold the rule of law, promote accountability for abuses and investigate and prosecute allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and to fulfil the right of reparations for victims,” Mr. Méndez said.

“I will also work to ensure that two new laws that were approved by Parliament and promulgated in the Official Journal in September 2015, on the prevention and the punishment of torture and the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism, will be implemented in conformity with international law,” he stated.

The Special Rapporteur, who visits the country at the invitation of the Government, will hold meetings with authorities, the judiciary, civil society, the National Human Rights Commission, United Nations agencies, victims and their families. He will visit Nouakchott and spend several days in the interior of the country, including the east and the south.

Mr. Méndez will share his preliminary comments and recommendations at a press conference to be held on Wednesday 3 February 2016, at 15:00, at the Tfeila Hotel, Nouakchott. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.  The Special Rapporteur’s report will be submitted to the Human Rights Council in March 2017.

Mr. Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2010. He has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Mauritania: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/MRIndex.aspx
Check the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Andrea Furger (+41 79 201 0119 / afurger@ohchr.org) or Sonia Cronin (Tel: +41 22 917 9160 / scronin@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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