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Indigenous People: UN Special Rapporteur on first mission to the Russian Federation

GENEVA / MOSCOW (5 October 2009) – The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, will visit the Russian Federation, 5 to 16 October 2009, at the invitation of the Government.

“I will investigate and report on the major challenges faced by indigenous peoples of the country in the enjoyment of their human rights,” Anaya said announcing his twelve-day mission, “with a view toward contributing to steps to address those problems, as well as to identify good practices.”

It is the first mission by a UN independent expert monitoring the rights of indigenous people to the Russian Federation, where there are over 40 officially recognized indigenous peoples, comprising more than a quarter of a million persons (about 2% of the total population) located mainly in the North, Siberia and Far East parts of Russia.

The Special Rapporteur will travel to Moscow, Khanty-Mansiysk, Krasnoyarsk, and Khabarovsk to hold discussions with government representatives, indigenous communities and civil society groups on the human rights of indigenous peoples.

A press conference will be held in Moscow at the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur’s visit - on Friday, 16 October 2009, with additional information to follow - and the Special Rapporteur will present the visit’s findings in a forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council.

The Commission on Human Rights decided to appoint in 2001 a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, as part of the system of thematic special procedures. The Special Rapporteur’s mandate was renewed by the Commission on Human Rights in 2004 and by the Human Rights Council, which replaced the Commission, in 2007.

On 26 March 2008, the Human Rights Council appointed Professor S. James Anaya (United States of America), for an initial period of three years. Professor Anaya is the James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy at the University of Arizona (United States).