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High Commissioner for Human Rights on 10-day visit to West Africa

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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour is embarking on a 10-day visit to three countries in West Africa emerging from armed conflict.

The High Commissioner will be traveling to Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone to witness the efforts being made to build effective systems of human rights protection in societies that have suffered from strife in recent years. All three countries host major United Nations peace operations comprising human rights components.

Mrs. Arbour will begin her visit in Abidjan, where she will hold talks on 7 July with President Laurent Gbagbo, Prime Minister Elimane Diarra and other senior Ivorian officials. Mrs. Arbour will also meet with Special Representative of the Secretary-General Pierre Schorri, head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), and with other UNOCI and UN representatives in the country. Meetings are also scheduled with the diplomatic community in Abidjan and with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

On 8 July the High Commissioner will travel to Bouaké, north of Abidjan. There she will meet with, among others, representatives of the Forces Nouvelles movement. Later in the day she is set to go to Duekoué and Gitrozon, in western Côte d'Ivoire, the scene of attacks that left dozens of civilians dead at the end of May.

On 9 July the High Commissioner will travel to Liberia, where she will meet the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator, Abou Moussa, the head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia.

Following a series of discussions with representatives of the international community in Monrovia, the High Commissioner will meet on 12 July with the country's Chief Justice, Henry Reed Cooper, and with other senior officials, including the Ministers of Justice, Gender and Development and Foreign Affairs. Mrs. Arbour will also take part in a conference on the current status of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and meet with representatives of the registered political parties.

On 13 July the High Commissioner will arrive in Sierra Leone. She will meet with Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago,)Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the country and head of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), and with other UN and UNAMSIL officials. The following day Mrs. Arbour will meet President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. After meetings with senior Sierra Leonean officials and representatives of the diplomatic community, the High Commissioner will travel on 15 July to Hastings, southeast of the capital Freetown, to the Grafton Amputee and War Wounded centre. She will then go to Koidu, in the Kono district, where she will meet local authorities and human rights groups.