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UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in first mission to Timor-Leste

GENEVA (3 February 2011) – The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will visit Timor-Leste from 7 to 14 February 2011 to study the country’s efforts in dealing with the issue of enforced disappearances including how it is addressing cases of enforced disappearances which occurred in the past. The experts will also collect information which may lead to the clarification of outstanding cases of enforced disappearances that transpired in the country.

During its eight-day visit, the Working Group will examine what investigations of past cases of enforced disappearances have taken place, what is being done to fight impunity, and other issues, including matters concerning truth, justice and reparations for victims of enforced disappearances.

In order to gather first-hand information, the Working Group will visit various parts of the country and meet with Government officials, civil society organizations, relatives of disappeared persons, representatives of UN agencies and other international organizations.

The delegation will comprise of Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa), Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group, and one of its members, Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina). The independent experts, who visit the country at the invitation of the Government, will be accompanied by members of the Working Group’s Geneva-based Secretariat.

At the end of the visit, on 14 February 2011, the Working Group will hold a press conference at UNMIT Headquarters (Obrigado Barracks, Caicoli, Dili).

A final report on the visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in 2012.

The Working Group was established by the United Nations 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 is clearly established.

The expert panel 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.

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

For more information on the WGEID, please refer to the following web site: http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/disappear/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Timor Leste: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/TPIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests:
Nikolaus Schultz (Tel.: +41 79 752 0481 / e-mail: nschultz@ohchr.org)
Matías Pellado (Tel.: +41 79 444 3940 / e-mail: mpellado@ohchr.org)
Giovanna Zucchelli (Tel.: +41 22 917 9187 / e-mail: gzucchelli@ohchr.org) or write to wgeid@ohchr.org