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Submission of information and of complaints from individuals or groups of individuals

In the framework of his/her mandate, the Special Rapporteur receives information on alleged violations of cultural rights. Communications may deal with individual cases, general patterns and trends of human rights violations, cases affecting a particular group or community, or the content of draft or existing legislation, policy or practice considered not to be fully compatible with international human rights standards.

To the limit of available resources, he/she may accordingly write to the concerned government (through a “communication”), either jointly with other special procedure mandate-holders or independently, inviting comment on the allegation, seeking clarification, reminding the Government of its obligations under international law and requesting information, where relevant, on steps being taken by the authorities to redress the situation in question. The Special Rapporteur urges all stakeholders to respond promptly to his/her communications and to take all steps necessary to redress situations involving the violation of cultural rights.

Communications of the Special Rapporteur can take various forms including:

  • Urgent appeals, which are used in cases where the alleged violations are time-sensitive in terms of involving loss of life, life-threatening situations or either imminent or ongoing damage of a very grave nature to victims that cannot be addressed in a timely manner by the procedure of allegation letters.
  • Allegation letters, which are used to communicate information about violations that are said to have already occurred or in cases not covered by urgent appeals.

Submitting a complaint

To see all communications sent to date by the Special Rapporteur, click here or go to this page

In order for a complaint to be assessed, the following information is needed:

  • Who is the alleged victim(s).Please also indicate whether:
    • The victim(s) has given you his or her consent to send this communication on his or her behalf. Please make sure you obtain the victim’s consent, whenever possible.
    • The victim(s) has been informed that, if the Special Rapporteur decides to take action on his or her behalf, a letter concerning what happened to him or her will be sent to the authorities.
    • The victim(s) is aware that, if this communication is taken up, a summary of what happened to him/her will appear in a public report of the Special Rapporteur.
    • The victim(s) would prefer that his or her full name or merely her initials appear in the public report of the Special Rapporteur.
  • Who is/ are the alleged perpetrator(s) of the violation (if known), including substantiated information on all the actors involved, including non-state actors if relevant.
  • Date, place and detailed description of the circumstances of the incident(s) or violation,, in chronological order. The information submitted can refer to violations that are said to have already occurred, that are ongoing or about to occur. Information should include the legal remedies, if any, taken at the national level or regional level, and any other relevant information, such as relevant legislation, on the various aspects of the case.
  • Identification of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the communication, if different from the victim (this information will be kept confidential). As a general rule, the identity of the source of information on the alleged violation is always kept confidential. When submitting information, please indicate whether there is any of the submitted information which you would like to remain confidential.

It is also recommended to explain in detail why you believe the incident is relevant to the Special Rapporteur’s mandate. For example, which cultural rights are allegedly infringed upon, taking into consideration the relevant international standards, as well as to, where relevant, the thematic reports of the Special Rapporteur?

As a general rule, communications that contain abusive language or that are obviously politically motivated are not considered. Communications should describe the facts of the incident and the relevant details referred to above clearly and concisely. The information should be submitted by any person or group of persons claiming to be victim of violations and/or to have direct or reliable knowledge of those violations. Communications should not be based solely on media reports.

Also note that several other individual complaint mechanisms have been established as part of the international human rights system. For more information please visit the Special Procedures page and the Human Rights Bodies-Complaints Procedures page.

Questionnaire for submitting information to the special procedures

To facilitate the consideration of alleged violations, the online form/ questionnaire at the end of this page can be used: "Online submission to special procedures". You may also want to refer to the model questionnaire.for cultural rights. Annexes such as pictures and copies of documents, etc., can also be included. Communications are also considered even when they are not submitted in the form of a questionnaire. Such cases can be submitted by email to urgent-action@ohchr.org or by postal mail to:

Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Follow-up and protection of victims and sources

It should be noted that neither Special Procedure mandate-holders nor the United Nations have the means to ensure the safety of persons on whose behalf they may intervene. The identity of the source of information is always kept confidential and neither included in the communication sent to the Government, nor in the public communications report.

Communications from the Special Rapporteur to the government are confidential at an initial stage until the letters and the answer of the State are included in the communications reports of Special Procedures, which are submitted to each regular session of the Human Rights Council (in March, June and September). However, in certain situations, including those of grave concern, a special procedure mandate-holder may issue a public statement earlier.

It is important for the Special Rapporteur to receive updated and relevant information on the situations referred to in the complaints submitted to enable him/her to continue to follow-up on the issue through his/her dialogue with the involved Parties. Person(s) or organization(s) that have submitted information and complaints are urged to consider the response made by Government and to submit their comments, if necessary, to the Special Rapporteur.

Follow-up information

Individuals and organizations are encouraged to provide updates on new developments relating to a case they have brought to the attention of the Special Rapporteur by sending such information to submissions to Special Procedures and to the mandate’s generic address. Such updates could relate to the following events: the release of a concerned individual from detention, a new court judgment or a measure taken by the concerned authorities to improve the situation.