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UN expert on human rights defenders visits Democratic Republic of the Congo

26 May 2009

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya, is visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from 21 May to 3 June.

The purpose of the visit is to assess the situation of human rights defenders, and examine the legal framework and the environment in which they function for the protection and promotion of human rights. After the visit, a report containing the Special Rapporteur's findings and recommendations will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council at its 13th session in March 2010.

The Special Rapporteur will also visit the DRC in her capacity as one of the seven thematic special procedures mandated to report on the progress made with regard to technical assistance to the Government of the DRC and on the development of the situation in the east of the country, further to resolution 10/33 of the Human Rights Council adopted in March 2009. A report will be submitted to the Human Rights Council at its 13th session.

The Special Rapporteur has requested to meet, among other officials, with the President; the Prime Minister; the Deputy-Prime Minister in charge of Security and Defense; the Minister for Foreign Affairs; the Minister for Human Rights; the Minister of Justice; the Minister of Gender, Family and Children; the Minister of Social Affairs; the President of the National Assembly; the President of the Senate; the First President of the Supreme Court of Justice; the Prosecuting Attorney; the Chief of Army; and the Chief of Police.

The Special Rapporteur will also meet with a wide ranging segment of civil society and the press, with representatives of the United Nations and State delegations. She is scheduled to visit Kinshasa, Kananga, Bukavu and Kisangani where she has also requested to meet with relevant local authorities and civil society.

The Special Rapporteur will give a press conference in Kinshasa at the end of the mission on 3 June 2009, at which she will present her preliminary findings.

Mrs. Sekaggya, a magistrate from Uganda, was appointed Special Rapporteur by the Human Rights Council in March 2008. She took up her functions on 1 May 2008.

For more information about the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, please consult the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/defenders/index.htm