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UN expert ‘disappointed’ by Juba’s decision to postpone visit

Author: Koang Pal Chang | Published: Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Paula Gaviria Betancur, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons - Courtesy

UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, on Tuesday, expressed her deep disappointment at the decision of the Government of South Sudan to postpone her visit to the country at short notice.

Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur (Colombia) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2022 and assumed the mandate on 1 November.

The visit was scheduled to take place from 9 to 20 October 2023.

“It is regrettable that the Government decided to postpone my visit at extremely short notice on Friday as I was preparing to embark the following day on what would have been my first visit to a country with large-scale internal displacement and critical protection needs,” the UN expert said.

“Citing the recent South Sudan Commission on Human Rights report on civic space, and the UN Secretary-General’s report on “Cooperation with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights”, as reasons for postponement sends the wrong message at a time when the protection of internally displaced persons in the country requires the engagement of all humanitarian and development partners as well as the authorities to realise their human rights”, Gaviria Betancur said.

The Special Rapporteur noted that as an independent expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, her task was to engage with authorities and other interlocutors to gather first-hand information on the prevention, root causes and drivers of internal displacement, examine the needs and human rights of all those displaced, discuss their protection, assistance and durable solutions needs, among others.

“Country visits help me to identify good practices, challenges and opportunities to respond to internal displacement, and to support discussions among humanitarian and development actors,” the expert said.

“Visits by UN mechanisms are carried out in a spirit of constructive cooperation and aimed at offering practical recommendations to governments with the ultimate objective of strengthening the protection and promotion of human rights in the country,” Gaviria Betancur said.

She expressed her gratitude to all stakeholders involved in the visit preparation, including government officials, UN agencies, civil society organisations, internally displaced persons, and humanitarian and development partners.

“I call upon the Government of South Sudan to propose new dates for my visit at their earliest convenience,” the expert said.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.

Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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