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Press releases Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Human rights do not have any borders: Pillay

No borders for human rights

14 February 2013

GENEVA (14 February 2013) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stressed Thursday the importance of addressing human rights issues in disputed territories, following the publication today of the first report on the human rights situation in the Transnistrian region*.

“Human rights do not have any borders. It is vital to address underlying human rights issues in disputed territories, regardless of the political recognition or the legal status of a territory,” Pillay said.

“People living in disputed territories, where legitimacy of control over a territory, security, development and humanitarian concerns are frequent, often lack or have very limited access to effective legal remedies,” the High Commissioner said. “These political deadlocks and security concerns all together affect the full enjoyment of their human rights and often create protection gaps. But the bottom line is that all human rights should be enjoyed by all people at all times regardless of these constraints,” Pillay said.

The report by the independent senior expert, Mr. Thomas Hammarberg, was a follow-up to the visit by the High Commissioner to the Republic of Moldova, including the Transnistrian region, in November 2011. Mr. Hammarberg’s report highlights key human rights issues in the Transnistrian region which has not been under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Moldova since 1992.

Following three visits between May and November 2012 to assess the human rights situation on the ground, Mr. Hammarberg recommended a review of the ordinary legislation to address aspects which are not consistent with international human rights law.

He also called for a thorough reform of the penitentiary system, including a reduction of the number of prisoners, the abolition of inhuman disciplinary measures in prisons and training of prison staff. The human rights expert also asked the de facto authorities to give high priority to measures against trafficking of human beings and its root causes.

Welcoming the full cooperation by the de facto authorities and the access given to Mr. Hammarberg in the Transnistrian region, the High Commissioner called on the de facto authorities “to address the deeply rooted problems identified in the report and to fully implement its recommendations, including the development of a plan of action for human rights.”

“Mr. Hammarberg’s research in the Transnistrian region clearly demonstrates how the deployment of technical human rights experts can truly benefit people on the ground, without having a bearing on issues of political recognition or the legal status of a territory,” Pillay said.

The High Commissioner called upon all parties to ensure that the human rights needs of affected people are addressed as swiftly and effectively as possible.

“We should neither forget nor neglect the human rights of people who live in areas which, for various reasons, are controlled by de facto authorities,” said the High Commissioner, who has been repeatedly advocating for human rights issues to be addressed in the context of protracted conflicts.

“I also urge Member States and the international community to be proactive in supporting the deployment of human rights experts, to focus on the human rights situation in other disputed territories worldwide,” she said.


*The Report on Human Rights in the Transnistrian Region of the Republic of Moldova is available online
· In English:
· In Moldovan:
· In Russian:

To read the full statement of the High Commissioner following her visit to the Republic of Moldova, including the Transnistrian region, go to:

For more information or media requests, please contact Cécile Pouilly (+ 41 22 917 9310 / [email protected])

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