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UN Expert to examine minority issues in Bulgaria

GENEVA (30 June 2011) – United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall, will visit Bulgaria from 04 to 11 July 2011, to examine the human rights situation of different minorities, including the Roma and Muslim minorities. She will also consider the legislation, policies and practices Bulgaria has in place to ensure equality and non-discrimination.

“Like all other European States, Bulgaria faces challenges connected with its diversity,” said Ms. McDougall, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government. “I’m interested to find out how it is meeting those challenges, what progress has been achieved in the areas of minority rights and anti-discrimination, and what positive practices Bulgaria might have for the region and elsewhere.”

Ms. McDougall will begin her visit in the capital, Sofia, before travelling to different regions of the country with diverse minority populations, including the cities of Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv and Kurdjali. She will meet with the Deputy Prime Minister, other Ministers and senior Government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations, community members, academics, and others working in the field of minority issues, social inclusion and promotion of equality and non-discrimination.

“I am delighted to have this chance to visit Bulgaria, one of the newest European Union States, and one with a historic diversity of different ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities,” she said. This will be the first mission to the country by an Independent Expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to consider minority issues.

Under her UN mandate, the Independent Expert is required to promote implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities* and to identify challenges as well as positive 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 issue a statement to the media upon conclusion of her visit on Monday 11 June, 2011.

(*) 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

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: 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 41 079 444 3940 / email: gfox@ohchr.org) or write to minorityissues@ohchr.org.

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