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Canada: UN expert group on people of African descent launches fact-finding mission

GENEVA (14 October 2016) – The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent will undertake its first official visit to Canada from 17 to 21 October 2016  to study the human rights situation of people of African descent in the country, at the invitation of the Government.

“We will gather information on any forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia and related intolerance, in order to assess the overall human rights situation of people of African descent in Canada,” said Ricardo Sunga, who currently heads the expert group.

The Group’s delegation will travel to Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax and Montreal to meet representatives of the Government, relevant communities, civil society organisations and individual African-Canadians working on issues of racism and racial discrimination.

The delegation, which also includes human rights experts Michal Balcerzak and Ahmed Reid, will look into good practices and gaps in protecting the human rights of people of African descent in Canada.

The experts will also promote the International Decade for People of African Descent*, which aims both to highlight the contribution of people of African descent to societies and to strengthen national, regional and international cooperation to ensure the human rights of people of African descent are respected, protected and fulfilled.

A press conference to share the delegation’s preliminary findings will be held on Friday 21 October at 14:00 in the Charles Lynch Press Room, Room 130-S, Centre Block, Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Following its visit, the Working Group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.


(*) The International Decade of People of African Descent: http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/

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. It is composed of five independent experts:  Mr. Ricardo A. Sunga III (the Philippines), current Chair-Rapporteur; Mr. Michal Balcerzak (Poland); Ms. Mireille Fanon Mendes-France (France), Mr. Sabelo Gumedze (South Africa) and Mr. Ahmed Reid (Jamaica).

The Working Group is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/WGAfricanDescent/Pages/WGEPADIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Canada:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/CAIndex.aspx

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva: Christina Saunders (+41 22 9289197 or 079 4443702/ csaunders@ohchr.org) or write to africandescent@ohchr.org

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