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Freedom of religion in Uzbekistan to be assessed by UN expert on new mission

Russian Uzbek

GENEVA / TASHKENT (2 October 2017) – The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, is making an official visit to Uzbekistan from 2 to 12 October 2017, the first by a Special Procedures mandate-holder in 15 years.

“I truly appreciate the opportunity to discuss with the Government international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief, and the situation in the country in ‘The Year of Dialogue and Human Interests’ in Uzbekistan,” Mr. Shaheed said.

“I am keen to learn more about the changes that are being pursued in the country in a variety of spheres following the President’s announcement of the Action Strategy for Further Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021,” the Special Rapporteur added.

“I will assess freedom of religion or belief issues, including how they intersect with the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association, as well as issues of gender equality and the human rights of women, children and those belonging to religious minorities,” he noted.

“I also look forward to learning about religious diversity in the country, and its efforts in promoting and maintaining peaceful coexistence among different religious communities while countering religious extremism,” added the expert.

The work of the Special Rapporteur, as mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, also requires him to identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and to present specific recommendations to overcome them.

During his 11-day mission, Mr. Shaheed will meet various government officials, representatives of religious or belief communities, civil society organizations and the UN. He will also visit different regions of the country.

The expert will share his preliminary findings with the media at a press conference on 12 October 2017, at 14:00 local time at the International Hotel Tashkent, 107 A, Amir Temur Street, Tashkent, 100084, Uzbekistan. Access to the press conference will be strictly limited to journalists.

Following his visit, the Special Rapporteur will present a report with his conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in 2018.

ENDS

Mr. Ahmed Shaheed (the Maldives) was mandated as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016. Mr. Shaheed is Deputy Director of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, UK, and Senior Fellow of the Raoul Wallenberg Human Rights Centre in Canada. He was Foreign Minister of the Maldives from 2005 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2010. He led the country’s efforts to sign and ratify all nine international human rights Conventions and to implement them in law and practice. Mr. Shaheed is the former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

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.

Read our e-Digest on Freedom of Religion or Belief (PDF) – 25 years of thought by four UN Special Rapporteurs

Check the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

OHCHR Country Page – Uzbekistan

For more information and media requests please contact:
In Tashkent, during the visit: Chian Yew Lim +998 93 501 74 55 / clim@ohchr.org)
In Geneva, before and after the visit: Chian Yew Lim (+41 22 928 9310 / clim@ohchr.org) or write to freedomofreligion@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org)

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