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First visit to Rwanda by a UN Expert on minority issues

GENEVA (28 January 2011) – United Nations Independent Expert Gay McDougall will visit Rwanda from 31 January to 07 February 2011 to examine the situation of different population groups reflecting the ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity in the country. This will be the first mission to the country by an independent expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council.

“I am visiting Rwanda to learn about its efforts and initiatives to ensure a future of equality, acceptance, and peaceful co-existence and to offer the assistance of my UN mandate to the Government as it confronts inevitable challenges,” said the Independent Expert, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government.

During her 8-day visit, the UN expert will consult the Government of Rwanda and numerous other stakeholders on the legislation, policies and practices in place to ensure equality and non-discrimination.

“I want to find out about conditions now, in 2011, which might result in some people, whether they consider themselves to be Hutu, Tutsi, Batwa, or belonging to other groups, facing disadvantages relative to others,” Ms. McDougall said. “My visit provides a valuable opportunity to witness those challenges, to identify good practices, and for constructive dialogue to help the Government to prevent problems emerging in the future.”

The Independent Expert will begin her visit in Kigali before travelling to different regions of the country. She will meet with senior Government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations, community members, academics, women’s groups and others working in the field of minority issues, social inclusion and promotion of equality and non-discrimination.

Under her UN mandate, Ms. McDougall is required to promote implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities* and to identify challenges as well as successful practices with regard to minority issues.

Following her visit, the Independent Expert will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The Independent Expert will hold a press conference on 07 February 2011 in Kigali. Further details on the time and venue of the meeting with the media will be provided by the UN office in Kigali.

(*) Check the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/minorities.htm

END

The mandate of the Independent Expert on minority issues is one of the thematic Special Procedures human rights mandates reporting to the UN Human Rights Council. Ms. Gay McDougall (United States) was appointed as the first holder of the post of UN Independent Expert on minority issues in July 2005.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Independent Expert: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/expert/index.htm

For press inquiries and additional information on the Independent Expert’s mission, please contact Mr. Graham Fox, OHCHR Human Rights Officer (Tel: +41 22 9179640 / mobile phone: 00 41 79-201-0118 / email: gfox@ohchr.org)