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UN al-Qaida, Taliban sanctions committee presents first ombudsperson

07-16-2010 15:48 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council's " Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee" on Thursday presented Kimberly Prost, of Canada, as its newly appointed ombudsperson.

Chairman of the "1267 Committee" that oversees sanctions against individuals and entities linked to the two groups, Thomas Mayr-Harting made the introduction at a press conference here.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Prost to the position in June, almost six months after the Security Council authorized the creation of an ombudsperson.

Due to the legal challenges facing the sanctions committee, Mayr-Harting noted difficulty in finding a candidate who could meet the position's various qualifications.

"Prost brought experience in all aspects of international law and counter-terrorism, from our point of view and evidently from the point of view of the secretary-general, this made her perfectly suited for this new task," said Mayr-Harting, who also serves as the Austrian ambassador to the UN.

In addition to her most recent role as role as judge for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Prost holds years of experience in the fields of international and criminal law.

Prost told reporters that she looked forward to fulfilling the duties of ombudsperson, but noted "much work needs to be done to make this office a reality and a practical application."

Established by Security Council resolution 1904, the post serves as an independent body to allow individuals and entities subject to sanctions the opportunity to present their cases.

Prost stressed that she would look to "all and any sources to gather information," in order to ensure the independent and objective work.

The ombudsperson is mandated to present an assessment of the cases to the sanctions Committee, relevant to the retention or removal of names from the list of those with alleged ties to al- Qaida and the Taliban.

In order to enhance the office's effectiveness, Prost said she will strive to maintain independence and accessibility in all operations.

In terms of accessibility, Prost will aim to establish "an open and transparent relationship with the press," she told reporters. "This office will be of little value if it is not known, if it is not visible, if it is not easily accessible."

Prost warned however, that there are limits to the level of accessibility she will provide. Dealing with sensitive and confident information is a primary task of the ombudsperson. "I will guard that confidentiality rigidly," she added.

"Throughout my entire career I have never commented on the details of pending cases and I'm not going to start in this job," said Prost.

United States ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, welcomed the appointment and lauded Prost for her experience as "an eminently qualified" jurist.

The selection of the Committee's first ombudsperson "is an important step to improve the transparency of the 1267 al-Qaida/ Taliban sanctions regime and make it an even stronger and more effective counter-terrorism tool," Rice said in a statement on Thursday.

Recognized for her extensive background, Prost previously served as head of the legal advisory section of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and worked for the Canadian Department of Justice for almost 20 years as a federal prosecutor.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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