UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Monday said he was deeply disturbed by the Malian authorities’ decision to declare the top UN Human Rights representative in the country as persona non grata.
“I deeply regret the decision by the Malian authorities to declare my representative, Guillaume Ngefa, as persona non grata and to order him to leave the country in 48 hours. I have been very troubled by the intimidation and harassment he has faced in social media in recent months,” said Türk. “United Nations staff must never be threatened or sanctioned for doing their work, which is based on the UN Charter.”
“I have full confidence in his professionalism and his dedication to the promotion and protection of human rights in Mali. I call on the interim authorities in Mali to rescind this regrettable decision without delay.”
The measure was announced in a Government communiqué dated 5 February, asserting that Ngefa, the Director of the Human Rights Division of the UN Multi-Dimensional Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and Representative of the High Commissioner in Mali, had been declared persona non grata. Ngefa was already outside Mali when the decision was communicated.
The United Nations has long maintained that the doctrine of persona non grata is not applicable to personnel of the United Nations. It is contrary to the obligations of Member States under the UN Charter, including those concerning the privileges and immunities of the UN and its staff.
“Human rights are integral to peacekeeping,” Türk stressed.
“I urge the authorities to create a respectful, safe and enabling environment for human rights work in Mali, which is more crucial than ever in the current context. I urge the Malian authorities to ensure better respect for and protection of human rights defenders. No one should face reprisals for speaking out on human rights issues.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).