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UN experts visit Equatorial Guinea to discuss the menace posed by the activities of mercenaries

GENEVA (12 August 2010) – The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will carry out an official visit to Equatorial Guinea from 16 to 20 August 2010, in what will be its first country mission in Africa.

“There have been some 12 reported coup attempts involving mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea since 1979, the most famous one being the one that occurred in March 2004 and which involved British and South African mercenaries,” said Amada Benavides, Chairperson of the group of independent experts designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination.

The Working Group has been requesting an invitation to visit the country since 2007 and is looking forward to this opportunity to obtain direct and first-hand information on mercenaries and mercenary-related activities in Equatorial Guinea, in particular on the 2004 coup attempt and its aftermath, including the investigations and prosecutions of those responsible, Ms. Benavides said. In line with its mandate, the group will also examine the situation regarding the activities of Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) operating in the country.

The panel of independent experts will meet in Malabo with members of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of Government, the army, representatives of the diplomatic community and civil society organizations.

Since its creation in 2005, the Working Group has been monitoring the impact on human rights of the activities of mercenaries and PMSCs, and in particular their lack of accountability. In order to fill the existing legal vacuum in which PMSCs operate, the Working Group is advocating for more stringent regulations, oversight and monitoring at both national and international levels.

Last year, the Working Group carried out missions to Afghanistan and the U.S. to examine the situation regarding the operations of PMSCs and monitor and study their effects on the enjoyment of human rights.

(*) The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Amada Benavides de Pérez (Chairperson-Rapporteur, Colombia), Mr. José Luis Gómez del Prado (Spain), Mr. Alexander Nikitin (Russian Federation), Ms. Najat al-Hajjaji (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) and Ms. Faiza Patel (Pakistan).

ENDS

The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was established in 2005 by the then Commission on Human Rights.
 
Learn more about the mandate and work of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/mercenaries/index.htm

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Julie Tétard (+41 22 917 96 03/ jtetard@ohchr.org.) or Ms. Catherine Phuong ((+41 22 917 92 71 / cphuong@ohchr.org )