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UN expert group on mercenaries on first visit to the Central African Republic


GENEVA (6 October 2016) – A delegation of the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will visit the Central African Republic from 10 to 19 October 2016 to gather information on the activities of mercenaries and foreign fighters that have been engaged in the conflict there.  The Group will also look into the activities of private military and security companies.

“During our visit we will meet with a wide range of stakeholders to learn more about motivational factors, recruitment, and the impact of mercenaries and foreign fighters on human rights, so that we can provide recommendations to the Government its efforts to rebuild the country,” said Anton Katz, who currently heads the group and who will be accompanied by fellow member Patricia Arias.

The Working Group’s delegation will visit Bangui, Birao, Bria and Obo during the mission.

On the particular issue of foreign fighters, the visit will be part of an ongoing study on foreign fighters and their impact on human rights, including on possible links to mercenarism.

The Working Group is mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to study and identify emerging issues, manifestations and trends regarding mercenaries or mercenary-related activities and their impact on human rights, particularly on the right of peoples to self-determination.

The experts will share with the media its preliminary observations at a press conference to be held on 19 October at 11:30 am, at the MINUSCA compound, Avenue Barthelemy Boganda, Bangui. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Working Group will present a full report of the country visit to the Human Rights Council in 2017.

The UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination was established in July 2005 by the then Commission on Human Rights. Its mandate was further extended by the Human Rights Council in September 2016. It is comprised of five independent expert members from various regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Anton Katz (South Africa).  Other members are Patricia Arias (Chile), Elzbieta Karska (Poland), Gabor Rona (United States of America) and Saeed Mokbil (Yemen). Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Mercenaries/WGMercenaries/Pages/WGMercenariesIndex.asp

The Working Groups 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 that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Central African Republic: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CFIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Ms. Natacha Foucard (+41 79 444 5172 / (+41 22 917 9458 / nfoucard@ohchr.org) and Ms. Jolene Tautakitaki (+41 79 444 5401 / (+41 22 917 9363 / 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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