UN tells Mali to reverse expulsion of top representative Guillaume Ngefa

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, on Monday, called on Malian authorities to rescind their expulsion order for his top representative in the country.

“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,” Volker Türk said in a statement.

Mr Ngefa, the director of the Human Rights Division of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and Representative of the High Commissioner in Mali, had been declared persona non grata in an announcement by Malian authorities on Sunday.

Mr Ngefa was already outside Mali when the decision was announced.

Troubled by intimidation and harassment, his representative has recently faced on social media platforms, Mr Türk said UN staff “must never be threatened or sanctioned for doing their work,” which is based on the founding Charter and principles of the United Nations.

“The UN has long maintained that the doctrine of persona non grata is not applicable to its personnel. 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,” he explained. “Human rights are integral to peacekeeping. 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.”

Mr Turk also urged 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,” he said.

Mali is entering the eleventh year of a security crisis.

MINUSMA was established in 2013 following insecurity in the north and a failed military coup by Islamist rebels, who still hold sway across much of the north and centre of the country.

Briefing the Security Council at the end of January, UN Special Representative and Head of MINUSMA, El-Ghassim Wane, had cautioned that stabilising Mali was crucial for the country and the region.

The decision to expel Ngefa comes as an independent UN expert on the situation of human rights in Mali is scheduled to conduct an official visit from February 6 to 17, ahead of presenting an annual report to the Human Rights Council in March.


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