Special Rapporteur Makes First Visit to Cyprus

Donald B. Holsinger, Ph.D. & Ellen S. Holsinger – Geneva

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, will visit Cyprus from 29 March to 5 April 2012. His fact-finding mission will be the first ever to the island by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council. “I will try to identify any existing or emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the freedom of religion or belief in Cyprus and present specific recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles. I will also highlight any good practices,” Mr. Bielefeldt said. The Special Rapporteur’s eight-day visit will include meetings in connection with his mandate with various officials and individuals on the entire island as well as with representatives of religious or belief communities and civil society organizations. The Special Rapporteur’s mandate is to take stock of the situation on the ground in relation to the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief and promote the adoption of related human rights measures.