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Freedom of Religion: UN human rights expert announces first official visit to Albania


GENEVA / TIRANA (4 May 2017) – Albania’s policies and practices to promote and protect the freedom of religion or belief are to be reviewed by United Nations Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed during an official visit from 8-17 May.

“I look forward to visiting Albania to learn about the coexistence of different religions and beliefs, as well as the positive examples of promoting religious tolerance in the country,” said the independent expert tasked by UN Human Rights Council with assessing and reporting on the situation of freedom of religion or belief in all countries. 

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate also requires him to identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and present specific recommendations to overcome them.

“It will be a timely opportunity for me to assess the freedom of religion or belief in relation to issues of gender, women, children, and religious or belief minorities,” said Mr. Shaheed, who visits the country at the invitation of the Albanian Government

During his nine-day visit, the expert will meet with Government officials, religious leaders, faith-based organisations, NGOs, representatives from civil society and UN Agencies in Tirana, Shköder and Körche, among other places in Albania.

Mr. Shaheed will share with the media his preliminary findings at a press conference on the last day of the mission, on Wednesday 17 May at 12:00, at the Hotel Tirana International (Scanderbeg Square, 8, Tirana), in the Onufri meeting room in Tirana. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The final report of the Special Rapporteur will be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2018.

Mr. Ahmed Shaheed (the Maldives) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016. Mr. Shaheed is a Visiting Professor at Essex University, UK; a former member of the Maldivian presidential Commission Investigating Corruption; and a foreign policy advisor to the President of the Maldives. He was Foreign Minister of the Maldives from 2005 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2010. He led the country’s efforts to sign and ratify all nine international human rights Conventions and to implement them in law and practice. Mr. Shaheed is the former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

The Special Rapporteurs 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: Albania
For more information and media requests:

In Geneva (before and after the visit): Ms. Maken Tzeggai (+41 22 917 9889 / mtzeggai@ohchr.org) or write to freedomofreligion@ohchr.org

In Tirana (during the visit): Ms. Nora Kushti (+355 69 20 90 253 / nora.kushti@undp.org) or Ms. Maken Tzeggai (+41 79 444 6129 /mtzeggai@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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