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Foreign fighters: UN expert group on mercenaries in fact-finding visit to Tunisia

GENEVA (26 June 2015) – A delegation of the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will visit Tunisia from 1 to 8 July 2015 to gather information on the activities of foreign fighters in the country. 

“During our visit to Tunisia, we will explore the possible links between mercenarism and foreign fighters, and their impacts on human rights,” said human rights expert  Elżbieta Karska, who currently heads the expert group. “This will allow us to initiate discussions on the issue of foreign fighters, including motivational factors, recruitment, measures, and impact on international law and human rights.” 

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 expert group will present their first report on the issue of foreign fighters to the UN General Assembly this year, which will include facts gathered during their visit to Tunisia and other countries, and the information shared by UN Member States and other actors.

The Working Group’s delegation will share with the media its preliminary observations at a press conference to be held at the Golden Tulip El Mechtel Hotel, Tunis, on 8 July at 11:00 a.m. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Working Group will present a full report to the Human Rights Council in 2016.

The 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 2008.

The Working Group is comprised of five independent expert members from various regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Elżbieta Karska (Poland).  Other members are Patricia Arias (Chile), Anton Katz (South Africa), 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 – Tunisia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/OHCHRTunisia.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
During the mission: Mr. Anis Mahfoudh (+216 2173 6189 / amahfoudh@ohchr.org)
Before and after the mission: Jolene Tautakitaki (+41 22 917 9363 / jtautakitaki@ohchr.org) and Ms. Alisa Clarke (+41 22 917 9633 / aclarke@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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