Special rapporteur on racism to visit Guyana, Trinidad

Stabroek News
July 9, 2003

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The Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimina-tion and Xenophobia of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Doudou Diene, is expected in Guyana at the invitation of the government between July 14 and 26.

A press release from the United Nations (UN) office in Georgetown said Diene will also visit Trinidad and Tobago at that government’s invitation during the same period.

Through his visit, the release said, the Special Rapporteur will seek to understand the origins of ethnic tensions that have recently affected the political and social fabric of both countries.

He is also expected to learn of government policies and measures aimed at guaranteeing the rights to equality and non-discrimination of citizens from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Diene’s visit should further contribute to strengthening current efforts by the UN aimed at supporting the building of social cohesion in Guyana in particular, the release said.

His mandate is to examine all incidents which are the manifestation of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. He is also expected to look into measures taken by the governments to overcome such manifestations and provide pertinent advice on how to achieve social harmony.

The release informed also that Diene will promote a double track strategy to combat racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia-related intolerance - a legal and political strategy aimed at implementing all international pertinent instruments and an intellectual strategy to understand the deep cultural and ethical root causes of discrimination.

The Special Rapporteur is scheduled to meet with officials, parliamentarians and political leaders in Georgetown and Port of Spain, as well as with representatives of the international community. He will also hold consultations with representatives of the judiciary, the media, non-governmental organizations and religious leaders in both countries.

And here he is also scheduled to meet with the Guyana Elections Commission and the Ethnic Relations Commission, the release said.

The Special Rapporteur will submit his findings to the 60th session of the Commission on Human Rights in March 2004. After Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, Diene plans to visit Canada, Colombia and Cote d’Ivoire.

Diene, a former UNESCO Director of the Department of Intercultural Dialogue and Pluralism for a Culture of Peace, is a strong promoter of dialogue among cultures, the release added. He is the second person to be appointed by the Commission on Human Rights to the present position since the mandate was established in 1993.