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Communications/Submitting information to the Special Rapporteur

In resolution 25/5 in 2014, the Human Rights Council extended the mandate as Special Rapporteur on minority issues for a period of three years and requested the mandate holder receive information from diverse sources including States, expert bodies, United Nations agencies, regional and other inter-governmental organizations, NGOs and other civil society organizations. Based on such information, she can issue communications to States concerning implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Minorities, where appropriate.

In light of this mandate, the Special Rapporteur has continued to bring to the attention of Governments information regarding the human rights of minorities. A considerable number of communications have been sent jointly with other thematic special procedures.

Who can submit information, and how?

Any individual, group, civil-society organization, inter-governmental entity or national human rights bodies can submit information to the Special Procedures. 

The Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights have launched a new online tool.

in 2016 in order to ensure effective electronic submission of information relevant for communications, and is a user-friendly tool that guides users through the steps to ensure that stakeholders includes information that is both required and desirable in order for experts to properly examine a case and take action as needed. 

If you are not able to complete the form online, you may send your submission via e-mail to urgent-action@ohchr.org or minorityissues@ohchr.org (please include in the subject box: Communication to the Special Rapporteur on minority issues). Post submissions may be sent to OHCHR-UNOG, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneve 10, Switzerland. 

In order to keep track of submissions, you are encouraged to use the online form.

Reports on Communications

A summary of communications and the replies received from the concerned State are included in the annual Communications report submitted to the Human Rights Council. Please note that, as a general rule, both urgent appeals and letters of allegation remain confidential until published.

The communications received by the Special Rapporteur can be divided into two main categories:

  • information regarding individual cases of alleged violations of the human rights of minorities, either individuals or groups;
  • information regarding general situations concerning the human rights of minorities in a specific country.

Both types of information are the subject of communications with Governments. Communications sent by the Special Rapporteur can involve requests for information, cooperation (allegation letters) and/or urgent action (urgent appeals) with a view to clarifying the allegations brought to her attention, as well as to preventing or, as necessary, investigating alleged violations of the human rights of minorities.

Letters of Allegation

The Special Rapporteur shall assess the conformity of the letters of allegations with reference to the following criteria:
(a) The communication should not be manifestly unfounded or politically motivated 
(b) The communication should contain a factual description of the alleged violations of human rights 
(c) The language in the communication should not be abusive 
(d) The communication should be submitted by a person or a group of persons claiming to be victim of violations or by any person or group of persons, including non-governmental organizations, acting in good faith in accordance with principles of human rights, and free from politically motivated stands or contrary to, the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, and claiming to have direct or reliable knowledge of those violations substantiated by clear information; 
(e) The communication should not be exclusively based on reports disseminated by mass media.

Urgent Appeals

The Special Rapporteur may resort to urgent appeals in cases where the alleged violations are time-sensitive in terms of involving loss of life, life-threatening situations or either imminent or ongoing damage of a very grave nature to victims that cannot be addressed in a timely manner by letters of allegations.

Type of information to submit to the Special Rapporteur

The communications sent by the Special Rapporteur rely, to an important extent, on the information provided. It is therefore very important that this information be the most accurate, updated and specific as possible.

This information should include a detailed description of the circumstances of the alleged violation. It should be brief and precise, and may be accompanied by annexes providing written or graphic evidence of the case.

The quality and level of information provided is crucial in ensuring the Special Rapporteur’s prompt intervention in a given case, as incomplete information will require further investigation and may delay consideration of the case.

Any additional information about the case should be made available to the Special Rapporteur, as it may provide grounds for the Special Rapporteur’s intervention or to follow-up on a previous communication sent to the Government concerned.
Required information

When and Where. Date, time and precise location of the incident (country, region, municipality, area).

Victim(s). Name, number and full details on the location of the individual(s), people or community that has been or at risk as result of alleged fact.

What happened. Detailed circumstances of the alleged violation. If an initial event leads to others, please describe them chronologically. In case of general measures such as national legislation or policies, indicate their stage of development and how minorities have or will be affected by them.

Perpetrator(s). Information on who allegedly committed the violation. If known, an explanation of the reasons why they are suspected of being responsible and whether they have any relation with national authorities.

Action taken by national authorities: Has the matter been reported to the national administrative or judicial authorities? If applicable, what actions have been taken by the relevant authorities to remedy the situation?

Action taken before international bodies: Has any legal action been initiated before international or regional human rights mechanisms? What is the state of development of these actions?

Source: Name and full address of the organization or individual(s) submitting the information. The details about the person or the organization submitting the information is essential in case that the Special Rapporteur would need clarification or further information on the case. This information is always kept confidential.