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Geneva, 27 February 2008-- The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Asma Jahangir, will visit India from 3 to 20 March 2008 at the invitation of the Government.

During her visit the Special Rapporteur will hold talks with Government officials responsible for matters of religion or belief and will meet with representatives of religious organizations, non-governmental organizations of relevance to her mandate and individuals. A report on the visit, including conclusions and recommendations, will be submitted to the Human Rights Council.

Ms. Jahangir, a human rights lawyer based in Pakistan, was appointed Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief in July 2004 by the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

On 14 December 2007, the Human Rights Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further period of three years and in this context invited the mandate holder (see Human Rights Council resolution 6/37):
– To promote the adoption of measures at the national, regional and international levels to ensure the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief;
– To identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and present recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles;
– To continue her/his efforts to examine incidents and governmental actions that are incompatible with the provisions of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief and to recommend remedial measures as appropriate;
– To continue to apply a gender perspective, inter alia, through the identification of gender-specific abuses, in the reporting process, including in information collection and in recommendations.

For further information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and copies of available reports, please consult http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion/index.htm)