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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville Location: Geneva 12 July 2011 (1) Senegal / Hissène Habré (2) Malaysia

12 July 2011


The High Commissioner welcomes Senegal's announcement that it is suspending its proposed repatriation of Hissène Habré to Chad. She had called for a stop to his repatriation to Chad at the weekend, because she was not satisfied that the conditions for security and fair trial were guaranteed, and because there appeared to be a real risk that he would be tortured if he were to be returned there.

Nevertheless, the High Commissioner stresses that this should not simply mean a return to the status quo, with Habré continuing to live with impunity in Senegal, as he has done for the past 20 years. It is important that rapid and concrete progress is made by Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habré to a country willing to conduct a fair trial.

This has been High Commissioner's position all along. It is also the position of the African Union (AU), as well of much of the rest of the international community;
It is a violation of international law to shelter a person who has committed torture or other crimes against humanity, without prosecuting or extraditing him.

The High Commissioner notes that at the recently concluded summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the AU called on Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habre to any other country willing to try him. She also notes that the AU had also invited African States that are Parties to the Convention against Torture (CAT) to indicate their willingness to try Habré. However, to date, no such African country has volunteered to do so. So far, the only country that has indicated a willingness to put him on trial is Belgium.


We are very concerned by the recent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators by the Government in Malaysia, and particularly disappointed to see the apparent use of excessive force by the police against so many peaceful demonstrators in an established democracy like Malaysia. As a Member of the Human Rights Council, Malaysia has pledged to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.

While the police have said that all the 1,600 or more detained demonstrators have been released, we remain concerned about retaliation against these individuals, as well as against those who were arrested in the lead up to the demonstration, some of whom are reportedly still in detention. These individuals should not be punished for exercising their fundamental human rights.

OHCHR remains particularly concerned about the detention of six individuals under the Emergency Ordinance and calls for their immediate release. Malaysia has been advised by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, as well as by Suhakam -- the national Human Rights Commission of Malaysia -- and the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police, on the need to repeal preventive detention laws;

We are alarmed at the targeting of individuals for championing the rights of Malaysian citizens to express their opinions and to peacefully assemble. Inappropriate accusations of treason and racial and religious incitement by officials and other public figures, in the context of death threats that have already been made against the Bersih leader Ambiga Sreenevasan, are quite frankly shocking and not conducive to healthy political dialogue;

For more information or interviews, please contact spokesperson Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 or [email protected] ) or press officers: Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 or [email protected] ) or Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 or [email protected] )

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