UN's top rights official condemns 'death squad' activity in Côte d'Ivoire

UN's top rights official condemns 'death squad' activity in Côte d'Ivoire

Sergio Vieira de Mello
The top United Nations human rights official today expressed grave concern over the growing violence in Côte d'Ivoire, condemning the propaganda carried by some national media aimed at inciting war, hatred and xenophobia.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, reminded all concerned that grave human rights violations are punishable as international crimes and declared his readiness to advise UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to seize the Security Council of such crimes if needed. Backing the Council's call last Wednesday, he urged the country's authorities and rebel movements to take all necessary measures to put an end to the violence and punish those responsible.

The Commissioner also underlined the essential role of an independent and impartial media in national reconciliation, as set out in the Programme of Government and National Reconciliation of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement of last month, and in the recommendations of the recent UN human rights mission to Côte d'Ivoire.

Meanwhile, Carolyn McAskie, the Secretary-General's Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, has just completed visits to Ghana, Burkina Faso, Liberia, and Guinea, where she got a first-hand look at the effects of the crisis on neighbouring countries.

"There is a lot that needs to be done by the international community to help. I think we should be generous at this time," she said in Abidjan, urging donors to address the crisis. The United Nations has issued a Flash Appeal for $22 million to meet humanitarian needs, but only 11 per cent of funds requested have been received.

In New York, the Secretary-General today appointed Albert Tevoedjre as his Special Envoy for Côte d'Ivoire. A national of Benin, Mr. Tevoedjre was a former Member of Parliament and Minister. He also served as Deputy Director General of the International Labour Organization. Mr. Tevoedjre will leave New York for the region this weekend and is expected to arrive in Côte d'Ivoire on Tuesday.