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Cyprus / Freedom of religion: first mission to the country by a UN independent expert

GENEVA (27 March 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, will visit Cyprus from 29 March to 5 April 2012. His fact-finding mission will be the first ever to the island by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council.

“I will try to identify any existing or emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the freedom of religion or belief in Cyprus and present specific recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles. I will also highlight any good practices,” Mr. Bielefeldt said.

The Special Rapporteur’s eight-day visit will include meetings in connection with his mandate with various officials and individuals on the entire island as well as with representatives of religious or belief communities and civil society organizations.

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate is to take stock of the situation on the ground in relation to the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief and promote the adoption of related human rights measures.

A press conference to share his preliminary findings will be held on 5 April 2012, at 12:00 noon in the Cyprus Community Media Centre, Ledra Palace Buffer Zone, Nicosia.

Following his visit, the Special Rapporteur will present a report containing his conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council at a future session in 2013.

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. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomReligion/Pages/FreedomReligionIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Cyprus: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/CYIndex.aspx

Download the “Rapporteur's Digest on Freedom of Religion or Belief”: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Religion/RapporteursDigestFreedomReligionBelief.pdf

For more information and media requests please contact:
In Nicosia: Chian Yew Lim (+41 79 201 0118 / clim@ohchr.org) or write to freedomofreligion@ohchr.org
In Geneva: Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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