The following statement was issued today by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, and the Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, Francis Deng:
"The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, and the Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, Francis Deng, today welcomed the appointment by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights of special rapporteurs on human rights defenders and on refugees and internally displaced persons.
At its recent session in Banjul, Gambia, the Commission appointed Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga of Tanzania as Special Rapporteur on Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. The Representatives said Mr. Nyanduga faces a daunting challenge, as Africa is the continent most affected by forcible displacement, with almost 13 million internally displaced persons -- out of a global total of 25 million -- and over three million refugees, the majority of whom suffer from the most acute violations of human rights.
No lesser challenge awaits Jainaba Johm of Gambia, whom the Commission appointed as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, the Representatives continued. As in many parts of the world, human rights defenders in Africa have found themselves increasingly targeted as objects of violence, harassment and discrimination precisely because of the critical voices they raise on behalf of those whose rights are threatened.
Ms. Jilani and Mr. Deng emphasized that a regional approach to forcible displacement and human rights defenders was critical for an effective solution to the many human rights issues involved. They expressed their hope that other regional organizations around the world would demonstrate similar leadership in creating dedicated mechanisms for promoting and protecting the rights of human rights defenders and the forcibly displaced.
Ms. Jilani and Mr. Deng pledged their full support for their new regional counterparts and look forward to close cooperation with them.