UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday announced the appointment of Bacre Ndiaye (Senegal), Luc Côté (Canada) and Fatimata M’Baye (Mauritania) as international experts on the situation in the Kasai regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bacre Ndiaye will serve as chairperson of the team of experts.
The establishment of the international team of experts was mandated by a UN Human Rights Council resolution adopted on 22 June 2017. In the resolution, the Council expresses grave concern about reports of “a wave of violence, serious and gross human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law in the Kasai regions.” The resolution refers to reports of the “recruitment and use of child soldiers, sexual and gender-based violence, destruction of houses, schools, places of worship, and State infrastructure by local militias, as well as of mass graves.”
The Human Rights Council resolution requests the team of experts
“to collect and preserve information, to determine the facts and circumstances in accordance with international standards and practice, and while ensuring the protection of all persons who will cooperate with the team, in cooperation with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including by facilitating visits and access to the country, sites and persons, concerning alleged human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law in the Kasai regions.”
It further mandates the experts to “forward to the judicial authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo the conclusions of this investigation in order to establish the truth and to ensure that the perpetrators of deplorable crimes are all accountable to the judicial authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”*
High Commissioner Zeid will present an oral update on the situation in the Kasais to the Human Rights Council at its 37th session in March 2018. A comprehensive report on the team’s findings will be presented in June 2018, at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council.
Biographies of the members of the international team of experts on Kasai
Bacre Ndiaye, from Senegal, served the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva and New York in various capacities between 1998 and 2014. From 1992-98, he was UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, participating in missions to the former Yugoslavia (1992), including for the International Commission of investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity; Rwanda (1993 and 1994); and Papua New Guinea (1995). Mr. Ndiaye was a member of the Senegalese Bar Council from 1982–98 and served as its Secretary General for eight years (1983–91). In 1995, he was appointed member of the Truth and Justice Commission in Haiti.
Luc Côté, from Canada, has been a Criminal Law attorney for nearly 30 years, with a particular focus on International Criminal Law, and is an expert on transitional justice. He served as a Senior Legal Adviser with the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda from 1995-99, and Chief of Prosecutions for the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2003-05. He was Executive Director of the UN Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste (2006), led the UN mapping exercise on the DRC (2008-10), served on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Kyrgyzstan (2011), and coordinated the program to support the rule of law for the UN Mission in Haiti (2013-15). Mr. Côté also worked on projects in Kenya/Somalia, Central African Republic, Bosnia, Haiti and Lebanon.
Fatimata M’Baye, from Mauritania is Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), President of the Mauritanian Human Rights Association. and on the board of the West Africa Civil Society Institute. In 1999, she became the first African to receive the Nuremberg International Prize for Human Rights, for her work on human rights in Africa. Ms. Mbaye also served on the 2004 International Commission of Inquiry on Côte d’Ivoire and on the 2014 Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic. She is a board member of the UN Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights. She chairs the women’s rights commission of the Mauritanian Human Rights Association, and is an advisory lawyer for “Terre des Hommes“, giving legal support to minors accused of criminal offences.
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