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First official visit to Denmark by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

GENEVA / COPENHAGEN (10 March 2016) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt will carry out his first official visit to Denmark, from 14 to 22 March 2016, to assess the state of freedom of religion or belief in the country.

“I am keen to learn more about Denmark’s distinctive features in relation to freedom of religion or belief, such an official ‘People’s Church’ (Folkekirken) in a highly secularized society, the challenge of integrating new religious minorities, or its efforts to promote inter-religious dialogue,” Mr. Bielefeldt said.

“It will also be a timely opportunity for me to assess the freedom of religion or belief in relation to women’s and children’s rights, and in particular, religious minorities and indigenous Inuit people,” he noted. “I am also interested in learning how Denmark´s progressive stance in LGBTI rights is integrated into its religious life.”

The work of the Special Rapporteur, as mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, also requires him to identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and present specific recommendations to overcome them.

During this nine-day mission, Mr. Bielefeldt will meet with various government officials, representatives of religious or belief communities, minority and indigenous representatives, civil society organizations and the UN.

The expert will share with the media his preliminary findings during a press conference on 22 March, at 12:00 at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Nordskov Meeting Room, third floor), Wilders Plads 8K, in Copenhagen. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

Following his visit, the Special Rapporteur will present a report with his conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in 2017.

Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt (Germany) assumed his mandate in August 2010. Mr. Bielefeldt 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. The Special Rapporteur’s research interests include various interdisciplinary facets of human rights theory and practice, with a focus on freedom of religion or belief. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomReligion/Pages/FreedomReligionIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

An e-Digest on Freedom of Religion or Belief – 25 years of thought by four UN Special Rapporteurs (download your copy): http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Religion/RapporteursDigestFreedomReligionBelief.pdf

Check the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/ReligionOrBelief.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Denmark http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact:
In Copenhagen, during the visit: Jon Izagirre García (+41 79 752 0484 / jizagirre@ohchr.org)
In Geneva, before and after the visit: Jon Izagirre García (+41 22 917 9715 / jizagirre@ohchr.org) or write to freedomofreligion@ohchr.org

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

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