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UN Rapporteur On Religion To Begin Visit To Turkmenistan

Asma Jahangir, the UN's special rapporteur on freedom of religion
The UN's special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, is due to begin a weeklong trip to Turkmenistan on September 4, at the invitation of the government.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jahangir will visit Ashgabat, Dashoguz, and
Turkmenbashi. In addition to meeting government officials responsible for matters of religion or belief, she is also due to sit down with representatives of religious or belief communities, civil society organizations, UN agencies, and international organizations.

At the end of her trip, Jahangir is scheduled to hold a press conference to share her preliminary findings with the media and will present a report containing her conclusions and recommendations to a forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council.

Jahangir is a human rights lawyer based in Pakistan. She was appointed special rapporteur in July 2004 by the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

In its August 2008 survey of Turkmenistan, the Norway-based Forum 18 News Service, which monitors religious freedom worldwide, found "continuing violations by the state of freedom of thought, conscience, and belief. Unregistered religious activity continues -- in defiance of international human rights agreements -- to be attacked."

According to the U.S. State Department, the Turkmen government continues to monitor all forms of religious expression, but notes that "the government has started to review and rewrite its legislation with the stated goal of meeting international standards, including the criminal and criminal procedures codes, and laws on religion and assembly."

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