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UN expert group on people of African descent on fact-finding mission to Italy


GENEVA (28 May 2015) – The United Nations Working Group* of Experts on People of African Descent will undertake its first-ever official visit to Italy from 1 to 5 June 2015 to study a wide range of issues concerning the human rights situation of people of African descent in the country.

“We will gather information on any forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia and related intolerance faced by a historically discriminated and invisible group, in order to assess the overall situation of people of African descent in Italy,” said Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, who currently heads the expert group.

Ms. Fanon Mendes-France, together with human rights experts Michal Balcerzak and Ricardo A. Sunga, will also study the measures taken to prevent racial discrimination and protect victims of racism and hate crimes, as well as mechanisms for the protection, integration and inclusion of migrants and refugees, intersectionality, and responses to multiple forms of discrimination, that specific groups of African descent may face.

“The visit will allow us to identify challenges as well as good practices on the basis of which we will provide concrete recommendations to fight racism and racial discrimination”, Ms. Fanon Mendes-France said. The Working Group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2016.

Working Group’ delegation will travel to Rome, Milan and Catania to meet representatives of the Government, relevant communities, NGOs and other civil society institutions working on issues of racism and discrimination and Afrophobia.

At the end of their mission, on 5 June, the experts will share their preliminary findings during a press conference at the Italian Society for International Organization (SIOI), Piazza di San Marco, 51, 00186 Roma, at 15:30 hrs.

(*) 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 Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Mireille FANON-MENDES-FRANCE (France); Chair-Rapporteur; Ms. Verene SHEPHERD (Jamaica); Mr. Sabelo Gumedze (South Africa); Mr. Ricardo A. SUNGA III (the Philippines) and Mr. Michal BALCERZAK (Poland). Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/WGAfricanDescent/Pages/WGEPADIndex.aspx

The Working Groups 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.

UN Human Rights, country page – Italy:   http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/ITIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Christina Saunders (+41 79 444 5172 / csaunders@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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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en