UN human rights office sees mission to Egypt 'in coming days'

AFP, Wednesday 16 Feb 2011

The office of the UN human rights chief said Wednesday it hoped to send a mission to Egypt in the coming days to assess the situation on the ground and to help the country in its transition to democracy

"The High Commissioner is going to formally ask the Egyptian government to accept a mission from her office to travel as soon as possible to Egypt," said Anders Kompass, who heads field operations at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The mission plans to "establish contacts with governmental officials and representatives of the civil society, human rights organisations, and human rights institutions."

In addition, it aims to "assess the situation and to find ways of helping this transition to democracy from the human rights point of view," said Kompass.

"We are positively hopeful that we will be able to dispatch a mission in the coming days," added the UN official.

The UN office currently has no field presence in Egypt, which is among several countries in the region where UN human rights officials have traditionally had limited access.

Kompass said that it has been difficult to gain access to Egypt until recent days as the government has been "very hesitant in responding to our request."

"We hope that now with the moment of change they will listen mostly to the requests from their own people, from their own human rights organisations, from their independent activists ... also as a sign of seriousness in the process of change.

"They have nothing to lose by inviting the High Commissioner to send a mission of human rights officials.

"It's also a way of giving credibility to this process... to this openness, transparency and seeing human rights now as an important part also in the transitional change to democracy," he added.

Ahead of the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak, the UN rights chief Navi Pillay had called on Egypt to carry out a "transparent and impartial" investigation into violent clashes between pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators.

Short link: