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FIRST MISSION TO SIERRA LEONE BY THE UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION

27 June 2013

GENEVA (27 June 2013) – United Nations independent expert Heiner Bielefeldt will visit Sierra Leone from 30 June to 6 July 2013 to assess the situation in the country regarding the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and to promote the adoption of related human rights measures.

“I would like to better understand the interplay of different religious communities in Sierra Leone - including Muslims, Christians and followers of indigenous religions - and the way to live together and cooperate for a better future of the country,” Mr. Bielefeldt said. This will be the first visit to the country by an independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor freedom of religion or belief worldwide.

During his seven-day visit, the human rights expert will meet with a wide range of relevant Government officials and agencies, as well as representatives of religious or belief communities and civil society organizations in Freetown and Moyamba.

Mr. Bielefeldt will share his preliminary findings at a press conference to be held on 5 June 2013, at 14:00 pm, at the Headquarters of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone.

Following his visit, the Special Rapporteur will present a report containing his conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in 2014.

Heiner Bielefeldt assumed his mandate on 1 August 2010. He 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. Mr. Bielefeldt’s research interests include various interdisciplinary facets of human rights theory and practice, with a focus on freedom of religion or belief. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomReligion/Pages/FreedomReligionIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Sierra Leone: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SLIndex.aspx

Download the “Rapporteur's Digest on Freedom of Religion or Belief”: 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://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/religion.htm

For more information and media requests please contact In Freetown:
Peter Tumuhekyi (+232 78 124 915 / tumuhekyi@un.org) or
Sharof Azizov (+41 79 444 6129 / sazizov@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

HR13/181E