Media Advisory 28 January 2010

UN expert on minority issues to focus on Afro-Colombians in first mission to Colombia

GENEVA – The UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, will make an official visit to Colombia –from 1 to 12 February 2010- to study a wide array of issues, challenges and barriers to the full realization of the rights of Afro-Colombians in both rural and urban environments.
“The situation of Afro-Colombians provides complex and challenging minority issues that require dedicated attention,” stressed Ms McDougall announcing her forthcoming mission, the first one to Colombia by a UN human rights expert monitoring minority issues.
“This visit represents an opportunity to understand the problems faced by different communities around the country, to consult on legislation, policy and practice relating to Afro-Colombian people and to benefit from the perspectives of all parties involved, including the communities themselves,” said the Independent Expert, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government.
Although population estimates vary considerably, according to the National Administration Department of Statistics (DANE), Afro-Colombians make up approximately 21% (9,154,537) of the population. High concentrations of Afro-Colombians live on the northwest Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast in departments including Chocó. Considerable numbers also live in cities and urban areas including Cali, Cartagena and Buenaventura, to be visited by Ms McDougall.
The Independent Expert’s visit will include travel to Bogotá, Cartagena, Urabá (Chocó/Antioquia) region, Buenaventura, Cali and the municipality of Suárez (Cauca) and their localities. She will meet with senior government officials, representatives of Afro-Colombian and other non-governmental organizations, with community members, academics, and others working in the field of minority issues, social inclusion, and to promote equality and non-discrimination.
Following her visit, the Independent Expert will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

A press conference will be held on 12 February 2010 at XXXX at 10:30 AM.