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UN expert group on people of African descent on fact-finding visit to Belgium

GENEVA (31 January 2019) – The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent will carry out a fact-finding visit to Belgium from 4 to 11 February 2019.

“We will gather information on any forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia and related intolerance, and follow up on the recommendations we made during our last visit to the country in 2005, in order to assess the overall human rights situation of people of African descent in Belgium,” said Michal Balcerzak, who heads the expert group.

The Working Group’s delegation, which is visiting the country at the invitation of the Government, will travel to Brussels, Antwerp, Liège, Namur and Charleroi, and meet representatives of the Government, national institutions, people of African descent, civil society organizations and individuals working on issues of racism and racial discrimination.

The delegation, which also includes human rights experts Ahmed Reid and Dominique Day, will look into good practices and gaps in protecting the human rights of people of African descent in Belgium. The Working Group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in September 2019.

The experts will also promote the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), which aims to highlight the contribution of people of African descent to societies, and to strengthen national, regional and international cooperation to ensure the human rights of people of African descent around the world are respected, protected and fulfilled.

A news conference to share the delegation’s preliminary findings will be held on Monday, 11 February, at 1500 in UNRIC, 8th floor, Résidence Palace, Rue de la Loi 155, 1040 Brussels.  

ENDS

The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent was established on 25 April 2002 by the then Commission on Human Rights, following the World Conference against Racism held in Durban in 2001. It is composed of five independent experts:  Mr. Michal Balcerzak (Poland), current Chair-Rapporteur; Mr. Ahmed Reid (Jamaica); Ms. Dominique Day (United States of America); Mr. Sabelo Gumedze (South Africa), and Mr. Ricardo A. Sunga III (the Philippines. 

The Working Group is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work. 

UN Human Rights, country page – Belgium

For inquiries and media requests Ms. Christina Saunders (+41 79 444 6129/ csaunders@ohchr.org) or write to africandescent@ohchr.org. For the media conference, please register by sending an email to: benelux@unric.org / +32 2 788 84 61

Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org