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UN expert on Extrajudicial Killings on visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

GENEVA (5 October 2009) -- The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions, Mr. Philip Alston, begins today a country visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the invitation of the Government which will continue until 15 October 2009.

“During my eleven-day mission, I will gather first-hand information on killings allegedly perpetrated by governmental and non-governmental armed forces, as well as on the underlying causes that might have prevented effective legal action to prosecute and punish those responsible” said the Rapporteur. “The aim of the visit is to provide independent advice to the Government on more effective preventive and remedial actions to address violations of the right to life”.

The Special Rapporteur will visit Kinshasa, the Bas Congo province west of the Capital, the North and South Kivu provinces in eastern DRC, and the Haut-Uélé region of Province Orientale. He is scheduled to hold meetings with key ministers, representatives of the police and armed forces, and with members of the legislative and judicial branches. The Special Rapporteur will also interview witnesses and family members of victims of killings and hold meetings with representatives of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission (MONUC) and with non-governmental organizations.

A press conference will be held on 15 October 2009. The venue and time of the press conference will be announced at a later stage. The final report on the visit will be submitted to the Human Rights Council in 2010.

Mr. Philip Alston, an Australian national, was appointed Special Rapporteur by the Human Rights Council in 2004. He is a Professor of Law at New York University and has extensive experience in the human rights field, including eight years as Chairperson of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, principal legal adviser to UNICEF in the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.