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UN rights expert to visit Sri Lanka to assess current situation of minorities

GENEVA / COLOMBO (5 October 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, will carry out an official visit to Sri Lanka from 10 to 20 October 2016 to assess the current situation of national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in the country.

“Experience has shown that the recognition and promotion of minority rights are critical, if not requisite, in achieving long-lasting peace and reconciliation, particularly in countries such as Sri Lanka that were once divided by ethnic conflicts,” noted the independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise in the field of minority rights globally.

“Considering the long-standing grievances that were at the roots of the 25-year civil war in Sri Lanka, any efforts towards accountability and reconciliation must include a careful examination of the extent to which the rights of minorities are protected and promoted in the country,” Ms. Izsák-Ndiaye said.

During her ten-day mission, the human rights expert will visit Colombo as well as other locations in the Northern, North Central, Eastern and Central Provinces to meet with minority communities to hear directly from them about their issues and concerns. The Special Rapporteur will also meet with a wide range of other stakeholders, including State authorities, the National Human Rights Commission and civil society actors.

Ms Izsák-Ndiaye, who visits Sri Lanka at the invitation of the Government, noted: “While I recognise the important advances made since the new administration was sworn in last year, the Government still faces immense challenges in terms of fostering unity, non-discrimination, peace and understanding among groups in the country.”

“My visit is intended to assist the Government and the Sri Lankan society at large in identifying challenges and solutions, as well as sharing experiences at this critical time for Sri Lanka,” she added.

The Special Rapporteur will present her preliminary findings and recommendations at a press conference to be held on Thursday 20 October 2016, at 2 pm, at the UN Conference Room, United Nations Compound, 202-204, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

Ms. Izsák-Ndiaye will present her full report on the mission to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017.

For the Sinhala and Tamil versions of this media advisory, please log on to:
http://lk.one.un.org/news/un-rights-expert-to-visit-sri-lanka-to-assess-current-situation-of-minorities/

Ms. Rita Izsák-Ndiaye (Hungary) was appointed as Independent Expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2011 and subsequently her mandate was renewed as Special Rapporteur on minority issues in March 2014. She is tasked by the UN Human Rights Council, to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, among other things.  Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/SRMinorities/Pages/SRminorityissuesIndex.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.

Check the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/Minorities.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Sri Lanka: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/LKIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Colombo (during the visit): Mrs. Niroshini Fernando, (+94 (0) 777 55 9261 niroshini.fernando@one.un.org, and Juan Fernández-Jardon, (+94 (0) 76 6925500 /   juan.fernandez@one.un.org)
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Ms. Olga Nakajo (+41 22 928 9348 / onakajo@ohchr.org) or write to  minorityissues@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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