GENEVA (9 November 2010) – The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries* will carry out an official visit to South Africa from 10 to 19 November 2010 to examine the regulatory and oversight system in place to monitor the activities of private military and security companies.
“For many years, South Africa has been a fertile recruiting ground for private military and security companies. As a result, it is one of the few countries to have taken concrete steps, including legislation, to address the activities of such companies,” said Alexander Nikitin, Chairperson of the Working Group, who will travel to Cape Town and Pretoria. “We are particularly interested in examining the impact of such activities on human rights and efforts to ensure accountability for violations.”
The UN expert body will hold discussions with government authorities, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, representatives of the diplomatic community, as well as representatives of the private military and security industry based in South Africa. In these discussions, the Working Group will focus, among other things, on the content and possible impact of the relevant legislation adopted in 2006.
A press conference on the initial findings of the visit will be held in Pretoria on Friday 19 November. Further details on the time and venue of the press conference will be provided by the UN Office in Pretoria.
Based on the information obtained during the visit, the Working Group will present a report with its final findings and recommendations to a forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council in 2011.
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.
(*) The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Mr. Alexander Nikitin (Chairperson-Rapporteur, Russian Federation), Ms. Amada Benavides de Pérez (Colombia), Mr. José Luis Gómez del Prado (Spain), Ms. Najat al-Hajjaji (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) and Ms. Faiza Patel (Pakistan).
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
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