By United Nations
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26 January - A team of United Nations experts will begin a week-long assessment on Thursday of the human rights situation in Tunisia in the wake of the recent political unrest, it was announced today.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced the mission last week, while urging the international community to support the Tunisian people's call for freedom and the full respect of human rights for everyone in the country.

“Human rights abuses were at the heart of the problems faced by the people of Tunisia. Therefore, human rights must be at the forefront of the solutions to those problems,” Ms. Pillay stated in a news release issued today by her office (OHCHR).

“The OHCHR team will explore possibilities for the advancement of human rights in Tunisia and seek to gain a first-hand understanding of the human rights challenges,” she added.

The eight-member team, led by Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director of OHCHR's Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division, will meet with interim authorities, civil society groups, UN agencies on the ground and other key actors during their mission.

Ms. Pillay said the observations and recommendations resulting from the mission will enable her to put together a set of concrete proposals for immediate and future action to improve the human rights situation in the country.

“It is important that we maintain the positive momentum established by the recent dramatic transformation of the political situation,” she stated.

The North African nation's president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled the country earlier this month amid growing protests and violence by protesters reportedly angered by rising prices of essential commodities, lack of employment opportunities, alleged corruption and limitations on fundamental rights and freedoms.

Last week, the High Commissioner said that her office has received information concerning more than 100 deaths over the last five weeks, as a result of live fire, protest suicides and deadly prison riots.