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First fact-finding mission to Brazil by UN expert group on people of African descent

GENEVA / BRASILIA (29 November 2013) – The United Nations Working Group* of Experts on People of African Descent will undertake its first visit Brazil from 3 to 13 December 2013 to examine a wide range of issues concerning the human rights of people of African descent in the country.
           
“In recent years, Brazil has attained many achievements in promoting equality. However, like many Latin American countries, it still faces challenges connected with the consequences of slavery, slave trade, and colonialism,” noted human rights expert Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France, a member of the Group’s visiting delegation.

“This mission will provide us with a valuable opportunity to find out how Brazil is meeting those challenges and to assist the Government to meet its obligations with respect to the rights of people of African descent,” Ms. Fanon-Mendes-France said.

Ms. Maya Sahli, another member of the Working Group who will be part of the mission, added that “the visit will allow us to evaluate the progress accomplished in the implementation of recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur against Racism during its last visit to Brazil in 2005”. She also felt it would be an opportunity “to identify good practices that could be replicated elsewhere.”

The Working Group, is visiting Brazil at the invitation of the Government, will travel to Brasilia, Recife, Salvador de Bahia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, all with large populations of people of African descent.

The experts will meet with national and state level authorities, representatives of the Government’s Special Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality (SEPPIR), NGOs, academics, and African descent communities including religious groups of African ancestry. The Working Group will also visit Quilombos, terreiros and favelas.

The UN expert group will pay special attention to issues of poverty, stigmatization, inequality, access to health, education and justice, participation in the political process and land rights for people of African descent. They will be talking to various representatives about contemporary manifestations of racism, xenophobia and discrimination in Brazil, with a particular focus on multiple discrimination that women and young men of African descent face. The UN expert group will meet with several State police departments and visit a detention facility during the mission to learn about the experiences of people of African descent in conflict with the law.

At the end of their mission, on Friday 13 December, the Working Group’s representatives will share with the media their preliminary findings during a press conference in Rio de Janeiro at the United Nations Information Centre in Rio de Janeiro (UNIC Rio), Palacio Itamaraty, Av. Marechal Floriano 196 - Centro - Rio de Janeiro. The press conference will start at 11:00 am 

Following its visit, the Working Group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in 2014.

The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent was established in 2002 by the then Commission on Human Rights, following the World Conference against Racism held in Durban in 2001. The UN expert body, among other activities, conducts country visits at the invitation of Governments in order to facilitate in-depth understanding of the situation of people of African descent in various regions of the world and focus on promoting full and effective access to health, education and justice by people of African descent. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/WGAfricanDescent/Pages/WGEPADIndex.aspx

(*) The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Verene SHEPHERD (Jamaica), Chair-Rapporteur; Ms. Monorama BISWAS (Bangladesh); Ms. Mireille FANON-MENDES-FRANCE (France); Ms. Mirjana NAJCEVSKA (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Ms. Maya SAHLI (Algeria).

Check the 2005 report on Brazil by the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/SRRacism/Pages/CountryVisits.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country page –Brazil: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/BRIndex.aspx
 
For further information and media requests, please contact:
In Rio de Janeiro: Valéria Schilling (+55 21 2253 2211 valeria.schilling@unic.org)
In Geneva: Sandra Aragon-Parriaux (+41 22 928 9393 / saragon@ohchr.org) or write to africandescent@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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