NEWS RELEASE – Joint Statement by UN expert bodies on enforced
disappearances

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NEW YORK (25 October 2012) – The Chairs of two United Nations expert bodies
working on the issue of enforced disappearance addressed today the General
Assembly.

The Chair of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, Emmanuel Decaux, has
told the General Assembly that the universal ratification and full
implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All
Persons from Enforced Disappearance should be a collective goal. He
welcomed the commitment of the 36 States Parties and the contribution of
all the stakeholders, in particular, of the associations of families of
disappeared persons and civil society at large.

Presenting the first report of the Committee to the General Assembly, the
Chair listed its three main priorities: to react to urgent appeals
requesting to find disappeared persons, and other individual
communications, in an effective way with the aim of protecting victims and
their relatives; to respond to the reports of States parties due within two
years in a rapid and innovative way; and to interact with other mechanisms
within the UN system, as the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary
Disappearances and treaty-bodies to ensure coherence in their
jurisprudence.

“I believe that while the members of the Committee are the guardians of the
Convention, it is now the common responsibility of all concerned to
implement it so that the Convention can finally bear fruit after a 30-year
struggle carried out by the relatives of the disappeared persons and NGOs
for its entry into force”, he said.

In the year of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration for
the protection of all persons against enforced disappearances, the
Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary
Disappearances, Olivier de Frouville, underlined that there are more than
42,000 cases still pending before the Working Group. “The Working Group is
grateful for the cooperation received from a number of States, which is
indispensable for discovering the fate and whereabouts of disappeared
persons around the globe. Nevertheless, it remains concerned that of more
than 80 States with outstanding cases, some States have never replied to
the Working Group’s communications while others provide responses that do
not contain relevant information”, he stressed.

Mr. de Frouville, noting that enforced disappearances regrettably continues
to be used by some States as a tool to deal with situations of conflict or
internal unrest, further underscored the underreporting of disappearance
cases in all regions of the world. “This phenomenon occurs for various
reasons, including fear of reprisals, ineffective reporting channels,
restrictions on the work of civil society, and, unfortunately, a lack of
awareness about the Working Group and its mandate”, he added. Mr de
Frouville also noted with concern a pattern of threats, intimidation and
reprisals against victims of enforced disappearances, including family
members, witnesses and human rights defenders who untiringly work to know
the fate or whereabouts of disappeared persons. “The Working Group calls
upon States to take specific measures to prevent such acts and protect
those working on cases of enforced disappearances”, he concluded.

“The work of our two bodies is complementary and mutually reinforcing. We
are committed to join our forces to prevent and combat enforced
disappearances and to help families to achieve truth and justice”,
concluded the United Nations experts.

ENDS

The Committee on enforced disappearances was established in 2011 following
the entering into force of the International Convention for the Protection
of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance . The Committee can be seized
with requests that a disappeared person should be sought and found as a
matter of urgency and can receive complaints from individuals who claim to
be victims of violations of the rights protected by the Convention. The
requests for urgent action may only be received if the enforced
disappearance has occurred in a country that is a State Party to the
Convention. The complaints can be received from the date in which the State
Party has recognized the competence of the Committee to do so. For more
information on the Committee, please visit:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CED/Pages/CEDIndex.aspx

The Committee is comprised of ten independent experts from all regions of
the world. The Chair of the Committee is Mr. Emmanuel Decaux (France), and
other Expert-members are Mr. Mohammed Al-Obaidi (Iraq), Mr. Mamadou Badio
Camara (Senegal), Mr. Alvaro Garcé García Y Santos (Uruguay), Mr. Luciano
Hazan (Argentina), Mr. Rainer Huhle (Germany), Ms. Suela Janina (Albania),
Mr. Juan Josè López Ortega (Spain), Mr. Enoch Mulembe (Zambia) and Mr.
Kimio Yakushiji (Japan).

UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearances:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/disappearance-convention.htm

For more information and media requests on the Committee on enforced
disappearances, please contact Maria Giovanna Bianchi (Tel: +41 22 917
9189 / email: mgbianchi@ohchr.org) or write to ced@ohchr.org

***

The Working Group was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in
1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of
disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of
communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to ensure
that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying
the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed outside the
protection of the law. In view of the Working Group’s humanitarian mandate,
clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person
are clearly established. The Working Group continues to address cases of
disappearances until they are resolved. It also provides assistance in the
implementation by States of the United Nations Declaration on the
Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. For more information
on the Working Group, visit:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx

The Working Group is comprised of five independent experts from all regions
of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France),
and the other Expert-Members are Mr. Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina), Ms.
Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa)
and Mr. Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon).

UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/disappearance.htm

For more information and media requests on the Working Group, please
contact Ugo Cedrangolo (Tel.: +41 22 917 9286 / email:
ucedrangolo@ohchr.org) or write to wgeid@ohchr.org

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