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Libya: UN expert group to probe use of mercenaries during recent conflict

GENEVA (18 May 2012) – The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will visit Libya from 21 to 25 May 2012 to assess allegations of the use of mercenaries in the recent conflict, and the measures taken by the Government to address this phenomenon in its aftermath. This fact-finding mission will be the first ever to the country by independent experts designated by the UN Human Rights Council.

“In addition to looking into the allegations regarding mercenaries, we intend to obtain first-hand information on the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services in Libya and the potential impact of these activities on the enjoyment of human rights,” said Ms. Faiza Patel, who currently heads the expert panel.

The Working Group’s delegation comprised of Ms. Patel and Mr. Gabor Rona, is visiting the country at the invitation of the Libyan Government. “We anticipate a fruitful dialogue with the authorities, representatives of civil society, private military and security companies and other stakeholders on the regulation of such companies with a view to ensuring a system of accountability for these companies, ” continued Ms. Patel. “Our aim is also to examine human rights issues relating to the alleged use of mercenaries in the recent conflict.”

At the end of its four-day mission, the independent experts will hold a press conference to share their preliminary findings. Further details to come.

In a report presented to the UN General Assembly in November 2011, the Working Group warned that the increasing use of private military and security companies around the world raises numerous human rights challenges, and requires greater regulation. See the Working Group’s report to the UN General Assembly: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N11/477/70/PDF/N1147770.pdf?OpenElement

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. Faiza Patel (Chair-Rapporteur, Pakistan), Ms. Patricia Arias (Chile), Ms. El¿bieta Karska (Poland) and Mr. Anton Katz (South Africa) and Mr. Gabor Rona (United States/Hungary). Learn more, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/mercenaries/index.htm

(*) Watch an interview on the mission with Mr. Gabor Rona: http://youtu.be/s1QTM1bDmnI

Check the Working Group’s draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/mercenaries/docs/A.HRC.15.25.pdf

UN Human Rights, country page – Libya: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/LYIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact in Tripoli: Habiba Gammoudi (+218 913750526 / gammoudi@un.org) or write to wgmercenaries@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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