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Death Of Human Rights Defender Mourned

Human Rights Commission
Media Release
20 August 2003

Death of human rights defender mourned

Human Rights Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan called today's death of Sergio Vieira de Mello a tragedy, which had robbed the world of a committed defender of human rights.

"Mr de Mello, who was UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, had taken on some of the toughest appointments in trouble spots around the world including in Lebanon, Kosovo and more recently in East Timor.

"He had worked tirelessly to protect the rights of those who had been caught up in some of the worst humanitarian tragedies of recent years.

"Mr de Mello also made a major impact with national human rights institutions at the International Coordinating Committee meeting during the April session of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

"His analysis, practical proposals, understanding of the role of national human rights institutions and his commitment to them was appreciated by all those who attended. We were looking forward with great expectation to his return from Iraq to the post of High Commissioner.

"On behalf of all those who work in the human rights area I would like to express our very deep sorrow at the deaths in the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad."

The offices of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission paid tribute to Mr de Mello and the others who were killed in the bomb blast with a minute silence at noon today.


Web site: www.hrc.co.nz

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