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Enforced Disappearances: UN expert body launches fact-finding mission to Mexico

GENEVA (14 March 2011) – The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary disappearances* will visit Mexico to learn about the country’s efforts in dealing with the issue of enforced disappearances. In addition, before the launch of its official fact-finding mission, the UN expert body will hold its 93rd session in Mexico City to review over 190 cases of disappearances from a number of countries.

Working Group’s 93rd session in Mexico
The Working Group will hold its 93rd session in Mexico City from 15 to 18 March 2011, at the invitation of the Government. During the session, it will review more than 190 cases of disappearances and recently submitted information on previously accepted cases and other communications concerning more than 25 countries.

The independent experts will hold meetings with Government delegations and civil society representatives to exchange views on individual cases under consideration and on the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in general.

Working Group’s fact-finding mission to Mexico
Immediately after its four-day session, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will start its official visit from 18 to 31 March 2011, to learn about the country’s efforts in dealing with the issue of enforced disappearances. The experts will also collect information which may lead to the clarification of outstanding cases of enforced disappearances that emerged in the country.

During the mission, the UN expert body will examine what investigations of past and recent 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 during its 14-day mission, the Working Group will visit various parts of the country and meet with Government officials at the national and state levels, civil society organizations, relatives of disappeared persons, representatives of UN agencies and other international organizations.

The fact-finding mission will be carried out by three members of the Working Group: Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur, Mr. Osman El-Hajjé and Mr. Ariel Dulitzky. The independent experts will be accompanied by members of the Working Group’s Geneva-based Secretariat.

At the end of the visit, on 31 March 2011, the Working Group will hold a press conference in Mexico City, with further details to follow.

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 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.

(*) 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

To learn more on how to submit cases to the WGEID, please refer to the following link: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/disappear/docs/How_to_use_the_WGEID.pdf

OHCHR Country Page – Mexico: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/MXIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests:
Giovanna Zucchelli (Tel.:+ 4179 444 3993 / e-mail: gzucchelli@ohchr.org)
Matías Pellado (Tel.: +41 79 444 4917 / e-mail: mpellado@ohchr.org)
OHCHR México Office:
Rosa Gutiérrez (Tel.: +52 55 5061 6374 / e-mail: rgutierrez@ohchr.org)
Jorge Hernández Tel.: +52 55 5061 6352 / e-mail: jorgehernandez@ohchr.org)