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Human rights chief meets with human rights defenders

UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay met with human rights defenders from the Middle East and North Africa to discuss the latest developments in the region. At the meeting, which focused on the human rights situation in the region, Pillay expressed her continuing support for their work.

UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay with human rights defenders © OHCHRThe human rights defenders provided an update on the human rights situation and challenges in their respective countries, including large scale disappearances, mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators, trials of civilians before military courts, and the targeting of human rights defenders.

A human right defender said that in Tunisia the situation had improved but that continued support and assistance from the UN Human Rights Office was still very much needed. The High Commissioner mentioned that she was establishing an office in that country to help support the transition.

Participants said that it was sometimes difficult to get the attention of the international community to focus on specific countries. Pillay explained her role in ensuring that human rights situations received the attention they needed.

Participants at the meetings were: Ms. Maryam Al-Khawaja (Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Bahrain), Mr. Majid Mastor (African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, Sudan), Mr. Nadeem Mansour (Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, Egypt), Ms. Elham Saudi (Lawyers for Justice in Libya), Ms. Sihem Bensedrine (President of the National Council for Liberties, Tunisia), Ms. Sohair Mikhail (Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Egypt), Ms. Laila Matar (Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Geneva), Mr. Jeremie D. Smith (Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Geneva) and Ms. Sanaa Hakim (Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Egypt), Ms. Rola Badran (Palestinian Human Rights Organization, Lebanon) and Glenn Payot (International Federation for Human Rights, Geneva).

8 June 2011