OHCHR to cease activities in Angola
OHCHR confirmed on Friday that it has been requested to close its representation in the country by 31 May 2008, after the authorities decided not to proceed any further with negotiations on establishing a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) similar to those under which OHCHR usually operates in other countries.
OHCHR has had a presence in Angola since May 2003, with a focus on increasing awareness of human rights issues in a country that was devastated by a 27-year civil war that finally ended in 2002. The organization played a role in the establishment of a national human rights institution, and assisted the Ministry of Justice in its efforts to recognize alternative mechanisms of justice, such as mediation and conciliation. It has also promoted the inclusion of human rights education in primary and secondary schools, and has helped civil society organizations strengthen their interaction with human rights mechanisms.
OHCHR was also supporting the Angolan Government in the drawing up of its reports to various human rights treaty bodies.
Noting that Angola still faces many challenges on the human rights front, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said she "respected but regretted" the Government's decision not to proceed with the agreement that would have formally established OHCHR's presence in Angola. "We look forward to examining any fresh initiatives the Government may suggest in line with its voluntary pledge to the Human Rights Council to increase its cooperation with my Office," Arbour said.
In early April, the Angolan authorities told an OHCHR team organizing an orderly phase-out in the Angolan capital Luanda, that their decision to close the organization's office should not be interpreted as an interruption of cooperation with OHCHR and human rights mechanisms.
For further information, please contact: OHCHR spokespeople Rupert Colville (+ 41 22 917 9767) Yvon Edoumou (+ 41 22 917 9383) or Praveen Randhawa (+ 41 22 917 9602) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org