Arusha, 14 February 2008 (FH) -The United Nations (UN) has expressed concern over lack of respect for human rights in some parts of East Africa, adding that populations have seen their living conditions dramatically worsen in the past year.

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"People in some countries have fallen victims of human trafficking, massive internal displacement and vulnerability,'' said Mr Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania, in his opening remarks at the East African sub-regional workshop on human rights reporting practices to the UN treaty bodies yesterday.

He added that Treaty body reporting should not be considered by nation states as a potential for punitive measures, but rather as an opportunity to gain support and guidance to achieve human rights standards.

He urged Tanzania to take some immediate steps towards the ratification of the Convention against torture.

"The main objective of the conference is to support East African countries in their efforts to promote and protect human rights," Mr Frej Fenniche, Regional Representative of UN Human Rights Office for East Africa.

The spokesman of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Roland Amoussouga, called for establishment of a lasting body of international law.

"This is especially true of international criminal law which deals with past injustices while deterring impunity in the future" he told more than 70 participants attending the meeting. The ICTR is trying the key suspects
of 1994 Rwanda genocide.

The Arusha Regional Commissioner, Mr Isidore Shirima, said that consultations are underway for Tanzania to abolish death penalty.

The three-day conference is attended by government representatives, national human rights institutions, civil society and the UN.

The countries attending are: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

© Hirondelle News Agency