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Nigeria: UN rights expert to assess the situation of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities

GENEVA  (14 February 2014) – United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák, will carry out her first official visit to Nigeria between 17 to 28 February 2014, to examine the situation of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

“Nigeria is a richly diverse country which hosts a great variety of minority groups. While it has well documented problems associated with that diversity that require attention and solutions, Nigeria is also one of Africa’s most dynamic and vibrant societies with much to share that is positive,” Ms. Izsák stated.
“My visit will allow me to better understand the root causes of challenges involving minorities and tensions between communities in some locations, which frequently lie in factors beyond ethnicity or religion alone,” the UN Human Rights Council’s Expert explained.

Ms. Izsák, who visits Nigeria at the invitation of the Government, will travel to Abuja and to other localities including Plateau State and Rivers State. She will meet with government and UN officials, a wide range of civil society and human rights organizations and other non-State actors. She will also visit minority communities to hear directly from them about their issues and concerns.
“This is a timely and essential opportunity for me to engage with all actors, to consider the current challenges, but also to identify positive initiatives being taken by the government, civil society and community leaders, to foster unity, interfaith dialogue, peace and understanding among groups,” Ms Izsák said. 

Following her visit, the Independent Expert will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the Government and the UN Human Rights Council.

Ms. Izsák will issue a statement to the media and hold a press conference in Abuja upon conclusion of her visit on Friday 28 February 2014. Details will be provided to the media.

Ms. Rita Izsák (Hungary) was appointed as Independent Expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2011 to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. As Independent Expert, she is independent from any government or organisation and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/IExpert/Pages/IEminorityissuesIndex.aspx

Check the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/Minorities.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country page – Nigeria: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AFRICARegion/Pages/NGIndex.aspx

For further information and media inquiries, please contact:
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Graham Fox (+41 22 917 9640 / gfox@ohchr.org) or Margarita Lema (+41 22 917 9248 / mlematome@ohchr.org) or write to minorityissues@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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