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Press briefing notes on Libya and Tunisia

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location:    Geneva
Date: 6 June 2014
Subject:     1) Libya and  2) Tunisia

1)  Libya

We are deeply concerned by the violence in Libya that has led to a number of people being killed and injured in the east of the country, particularly in Benghazi - including people not directly involved in armed clashes. We urge all sides to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid further escalation and engage in peaceful dialogue and we call upon the authorities to renew their efforts to meet their obligations under international human rights law, specifically with respect to protecting the right to life.

We are further concerned that space to operate for human rights defenders, humanitarian workers, media professionals, and all those engaged in efforts to support Libya is shrinking by the day.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the tragic murder on 4 June in Sirte of Michael Greub, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross sub-delegation in Misrata. We call upon the authorities to launch a prompt, impartial and independent investigation and ensure that those found responsible are brought to justice. This is fundamental to ensuring that the rule of law is upheld and the culture of impunity is not allowed to grow even worse.

We also deplore the detention of staff members of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) in recent weeks.  On 4 June, four staff members of UNSMIL were temporarily detained upon arriving at Tripoli airport. Previously, on 11 May, another UNSMIL staff member was detained briefly whilst observing the trial of a number of former officials in the Gaddafi government. We call on all parties in Libya to ensure that UN officials and aid workers can perform their impartial human rights and other work without harassment or intimidation.

2)   Tunisia

On Monday 9 June, Tunisia will launch the work of its Truth and Dignity Commission at a seminar in Tunis co-organised by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Tunisia, the UN Development Programme, the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the Tunisian Ministry of Human Rights and Transitional Justice. OHCHR Tunis has been closely involved in the establishment of the Truth and Dignity Commission in Tunisia. The Commission is a very welcome step forward in addressing the human rights violations of the past, establishing the truth and providing accountability, recognition and reparations to the victims.

Monday’s seminar will be addressed by President Mohamed Moncef Marzouki and a number of other high-level officials. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, will address the seminar through a video message, as will Desmond Tutu, the President of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The heads of several other such commissions from Poland, Morocco, Peru, Guatemala and Kenya will also be there to share experiences from their countries.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org ), Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 /rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)
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