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UN expert on religious freedom goes on first visit to Lao PDR

23 November 2009

GENEVA - The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ms. Asma Jahangir, will visit the Lao People’s Democratic Republic from 23 to 30 November 2009, at the invitation of the Government, in what is the first mission to the country by a UN human rights expert monitoring religious freedom.

“I welcome the recent ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic,” said Ms. Jahangir announcing her forthcoming country mission. “Article 18 of the Covenant enshrines freedom of religion or belief and I have been mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council to identify any existing or emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of this freedom,” she added.

The Special Rapporteur’s visit will include meetings in the capital Vientiane as well as in Luang Prabang and Savannakhet provinces. She will meet with various Government officials responsible for matters of religion or belief. Her visit will also include meetings with representatives of religious or belief communities, civil society organizations and United Nations agencies.

A press conference to share her preliminary findings will be held on 30 November 2009 at 11:00 a.m. in UN House, Vientiane. Following her visit, the Special Rapporteur will present a report containing her conclusions and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2010.

ENDS

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. The Human Rights Council in its resolution 6/37 invited the mandate holder:

  • 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.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion

OHCHR Country Page – Lao: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/LAIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Nathalie Rondeux (Tel.: +41 22 917 9251, e-mail: nrondeux@ohchr.org)