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Enforced Disappearances: UN expert group studies over 200 cases during session and starts fact-finding mission to Mexico

MEXICO CITY (21 March 2011) – During its 93rd session, which took place in Mexico City from 15-18 March 2011, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances* examined 11 reported cases of enforced disappearances under its urgent action procedure, as well as information on 190 cases, including newly-submitted cases and previously accepted ones.

The Working Group studied cases concerning Algeria, Bangladesh, People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Republic of Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Georgia, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Yemen.

The five independent human rights experts also reviewed responses from various Governments to prompt intervention letters and urgent appeals.

During its session, the Working Group also held meetings with representatives of the Governments of Japan and Guatemala, as well as consultations with family members of disappeared persons and non-governmental organizations from the region as well as other parts of the world to exchange views on individual cases under consideration and on the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in general.

The UN expert body also examined allegations submitted by non-governmental organizations regarding obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and decided to transmit general allegations to various concerned Governments.

The Working Group would like to thank the Government of Mexico for extending an invitation to hold its session in Mexico City, as well as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico for its positive support.

Working Group’s fact-finding mission to Mexico

Immediately after its 93rd session, the Working Group started its official visit to Mexico to learn about the country’s efforts in dealing with the issue of enforced disappearances. From 18-31 March 2011, the experts will collect information which may lead to the clarification of outstanding cases of enforced disappearances that occurred in the country.

The UN expert body will examine the phenomenon of enforced disappearance, the status of the investigations of old and recent cases, steps taken to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances, what is being done to combat impunity, and other issues, including matters concerning truth, justice and reparations for victims of enforced disappearances.

To gather first-hand information during its mission, the Working Group will visit various parts of the country and meet Government officials at 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 of the Group’s experts: Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur, Mr. Osman El-Hajjé and Mr. Ariel Dulitzky, 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 at 4 p.m., at Casa Lamm, Mexico City.

A 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, log on to: 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:
Ms. Giovanna Zucchelli (Tel.:+ 4179 444 3993 / e-mail: gzucchelli@ohchr.org)
Mr. 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)