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Human Rights Commissioner to travel to Tanzania and Ethiopia (5 – 12 January)

05.01.2009

Günter Nooke, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, left today (5 January) for a week-long trip to Tanzania and Ethiopia.

The Commissioner will meet with representatives from the government, the national human rights commission and civil society in Dar es Salaam. In discussions, he will recognize the progress Tanzania has made in the field of human rights protection and emphasize the importance especially of freedom of the press and opinion for Africa's further development in the areas of democracy and the rule of law.

During his visit, the Human Rights Commissioner also intends to draw attention to the situation of albinos in eastern and parts of central Africa and discuss with his partners how to better protect these people. Recently, albinos have increasingly become the victims of superstitious rites.

Additionally, Mr Nooke will travel to Arusha, Tanzania to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the African Court on Human and People's Rights.

The Commissioner issued the following statement regarding the tribunal's recent decisions prior to his departure:

"I welcome the recent convictions of Théoneste Bagosora and two other organizers of the genocide in Rwanda. This is an important step in the international fight against impunity."

Günter Nooke will end his trip with a two-day visit to Addis Ababa (10 – 12 January). There he will have talks with Foreign Minister Seyoum and other government representatives, Ms Dolly Joiner, the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, as well as with representatives of civil society organizations and churches. The talks in Ethiopia will focus on the state of human rights, the situation for minorities and humanitarian issues as well as the possibilities for non-governmental organizations to carry out their work there.

Regarding his trip to Ethiopia, the Commissioner issued the following statement:

"The relations in a spirit of partnership we share with Ethiopia are of great significance to Germany. Ethiopia is a key country for the entire Horn of Africa region. However, we are deeply concerned about the increasingly limited scope for civil society activities and political opposition in Ethiopia. The recent arrest of Birtukan Medeksa, leader of the most important opposition party in Ethiopia, is an additional cause for concern and must be submitted to judicial review that fulfils rule-of-law criteria as soon as possible."

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