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UN expert visits Spain to assess rights of minorities


GENEVA (11 January 2019) – The UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, will visit Spain from 14 to 25 January to gather first-hand information on the situation of minorities in the country, and to identify good practices as well as key areas that require improvements.

The visit will look at existing policies for the protection and promotion of the rights of persons belonging to national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities. The issue of access to quality education - including in minority languages - will be considered as well as questions relating to freedom of religion, problems over inclusion and political participation, and the fight against intolerance and hate speech. 

The Special Rapporteur said he would integrate a strong gender perspective, by highlighting the situation of minority women and girls. He will also look at the situation of vulnerable minorities, such as the Roma, Muslim communities and communities’ descendant from migrants.

During his 12-day mission the Special Rapporteur will visit the capital Madrid and will travel to the Basque Country, Catalonia, Andalusia as well as Galicia. He will meet senior government officials, at both the national and regional level, representatives of civil society and members of minorities, including of the deaf community with regard to, inter alia, their rights as members of a linguistic minority.

At the end of his visit, on Friday 25 January 2019, the Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary findings and recommendations at a news conference at the UNWTO, Calle del Capitán Haya, 42, 28020 Madrid, at 12.00 local time. 
He will present a comprehensive report of his visit to a forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council.


Mr. Fernand de Varennes was appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2017. He is tasked by the UN Human Rights Council, to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, among other things.

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.

Read the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

UN Human Rights country page: Spain

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva (before and after the visit):
Dorian Hall (+41 22 917 54 93 / dhall@ohchr.org )
For access to the press conference, contact: ssiv@unwto.org / +34 91 567 9332

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)