UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to visit Sri Lanka

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Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, will carry out an official visit to Sri Lanka, from August 15 to 26.

“I will look at how Sri Lanka promotes and protects the rights to freedom of religion or belief. The visit will be an opportunity for me to have an open exchange with the Government to try to gain a better understanding of how it upholds these rights,” Shaheed said.

“I also look forward to learning about the efforts of the Government in developing and maintaining peaceful coexistence among different religious communities.”

The Special Rapporteur will examine progress made in the implementation of recommendations during the visit of the former UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, in 2005. He will also aim to identify any existing or emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka by all and will present recommendations aimed at overcoming such obstacles.

During his 12-day mission, Shaheed will meet Government officials, representatives of religious or belief communities, civil society organisations and the UN. He will also visit areas away from the capital, Colombo.

The Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference on August 26 at 14:30 local time at the United Nations Compound, 202-204 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, to present his preliminary observations. Access to the press conference will be strictly limited to accredited journalists.

Shaheed will present a report with his conclusions and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2020.

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.