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UN expert group on people of African descent to undertake mission to the Netherlands

(GENEVA 24 June 2014) – The United Nations Working Group* of Experts on People of African Descent will visit the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 26 June to 4 July 2014 to study a wide range of issues concerning the human rights situation of people of African descent in the country.

“During our visit, we will analyze the situation of people of African descent, a historically discriminated group in many countries,” said Mireille Fanon-Mendes- France, who currently heads the five-strong group of independent human rights experts.

This will be the first visit to the Netherlands by an independent expert group appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor the rights of people of African descent. The Group’s delegation will also include Ms. Mirjana Najcevska and Ms. Verene Shepherd, members of the Working Group.

The UN expert group will assess the situation of both Dutch born and migrant people of African descendant living across the Dutch Kingdom, addressing issues of poverty and inequality particularly in terms of access to health, education, housing, employment and justice.

They will discuss concerns around racism, discrimination and xenophobia affecting people of African descent in the country. The experts will also study the mechanisms for the protection, integration and inclusion of migrants and refugees as well as responses to the multiple forms of discrimination that women and other vulnerable groups of African descent may face.

“We will focus on both good practices and challenges faced in realising the rights of people of African descent in the Netherlands, and learn how different communities live together and what is being done to counter racial discrimination, Ms. Fanon-Mendes-France said.

The Working Group, which visits these countries at the invitation of the Government, will travel to The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Middleburg as well as Willemstad in Curacao. They will also visit two prisons and a juvenile detention centre to learn about the situation of people of African descent within the justice system.

The experts will meet with representatives of the national government as well as some local government representatives. They will also meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations and civil society, African descent community members, academics, and other institutions working on issues of racism and discrimination.

At the end of their mission, on 4th July, the experts will share with the media their preliminary findings during a press conference in the Hague at 2pm. Details of the press conference will follow closer to the date.

The Working Group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council.


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. The UN expert body, among other activities, conducts country visits at the invitation of Governments in order to facilitate in-depth understanding of the situation of people of African descent in various regions of the world and focus on promoting full and effective access to health, education and justice by people of African descent.

The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Chair-Rapporteur Ms. Mireille FANON-MENDES-FRANCE (France); Ms. Monorama BISWAS (Bangladesh); Ms. Mirjana NAJCEVSKA (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Ms. Maya SAHLI (Algeria) and Ms. Verene SHEPHERD (Jamaica). Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/WGAfricanDescent/Pages/WGEPADIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country page – Netherlands:

For further information and media requests, please contact Sandra Aragon-Parriaux (+41 22 928 9393 / saragon@ohchr.org) or write to africandescent@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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