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OFFICIAL VISIT TO BANGLADESH BY THE UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

27 August 2015

GENEVA / DHAKA (27 August 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt will carry out an official visit to Bangladesh from 31 August to 9 September 2015, to assess the state of freedom of religion or belief in the country.

“I am keen to learn more about the efforts to eliminate root causes of violence, intimidations and vigilantism in the name of religion and developments in promoting and protecting religious freedom, especially initiatives of inter-religious dialogues, following the first country visit by my predecessor* in May 2000,” Mr. Bielefeldt said.

“It will also be a timely opportunity for me to assess the freedom of religion or belief in relation to issues of gender, women, children, and in particular, religious minorities or indigenous communities,” he noted.

The work of the Special Rapporteur, as mandated by the United Nations 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 present specific recommendations to overcome them.

During this nine-day mission, Mr. Bielefeldt will meet with various government officials, representatives of religious or belief communities, minority and indigenous representatives, civil society organizations and the United Nations.

The expert will share with the media his preliminary findings during a press conference on 9 September 2015, at 15:00 at the National Press Club, 18 Topkhana Road in Dhaka. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

Following his visit, the Special Rapporteur will present a report with his conclusions and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2016.

(*) Check the 2000 report ‘Elimination of all forms of religious intolerance - Situation in Bangladesh’: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N00/604/89/PDF/N0060489.pdf?OpenElement


Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt (Germany) assumed his mandate in August 2010. Mr. Bielefeldt is Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Politics at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. From 2003 to 2009, he was Director of Germany’s National Human Rights Institution. The Special Rapporteur’s research interests include various interdisciplinary facets of human rights theory and practice, with a focus on freedom of religion or belief. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomReligion/Pages/FreedomReligionIndex.aspx

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.

An e-Digest on Freedom of Religion or Belief – 25 years of thought by four UN Special Rapporteurs (download your copy): http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Religion/RapporteursDigestFreedomReligionBelief.pdf

Check the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/ReligionOrBelief.aspx

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

For more information and media requests please contact:
In Dhaka, during the visit: Mika Kanervavuori (+88 017 1416 1314 / mika.kanervavuori@one.un.org) or Chian Yew Lim (+41 79 752 0481 / 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:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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For use of the information media; not an official record

HR15/248E