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Paraguay: first visit of UN expert on religious freedom

GENEVA (22 March 2011) - United Nations Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt will visit Paraguay from 23-30 March 2011 to identify any existing or emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the freedom of religion or belief in the country and present recommendations to overcome such obstacles.

This will be the first mission to the country by an independent human rights expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor freedom of religion or belief.

“My mandate requires me to encourage the adoption of measures to ensure the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief,” Mr. Bielefeldt said. “This includes examining incidents and government actions that are incompatible with the provisions of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief*.”

The Special Rapporteur, who visits Paraguay at the invitation of the Government, will meet with various Government officials responsible for matters of religion or belief. His eight-day mission will also include meetings with representatives of religious or belief communities, civil society organizations and United Nations agencies in the capital Asunción as well as in Ciudad del Este and Filadelfia.

A press conference to share his preliminary findings will be held on 30 March 2011 at 14:30 in the UN building in Asunción, Av. Mariscal López esq. Saraví.

Following his visit, the Special Rapporteur will present a report containing his conclusions and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council at a future session in 2012.

Heiner Bielefeldt assumed his mandate on 1 August 2010. He is Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Politics at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. From 2003 to 2009, he was Director of Germany’s National Human Rights Institution. Mr. Bielefeldt’s research interests include various interdisciplinary facets of human rights theory and practice, with a focus on freedom of religion or belief.

(*) Check the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/religion.htm

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion

OHCHR Country Page – Paraguay: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/PYIndex.aspx

Download the “Rapporteur's Digest on Freedom of Religion or Belief”: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion/docs/RapporteursDigestFreedomReligionBelief.pdf

For more information and media requests, please contact Andrea Machain, United Nation Information Centre (Tel: +595 614443, e-mail: andrea.machain@unic.org) or Mr. Michael Wiener (Tel.: +41 22 917 9159, e-mail: mwiener@ohchr.org)