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UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in first mission to Congo

GENEVA (23 September 2011) – The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances* will undertake its first visit to the Republic of the Congo from 24 September to 3 October 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.

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

The Working Group’s delegation will comprise Mr. Olivier de Frouville, Vice-Chair of the Working Group, and one of its members, Mr. Osman El-Hajjé. The independent experts, who visit the country at the invitation of the Government, will be accompanied by members of the Working Group’s Secretariat in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights based in Geneva.

At the end of the visit, on 3 October 2011, the Working Group will hold a press conference in Brazzaville, with further details to follow.

A final report on the mission will be presented to the UN 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 is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa), the Vice-Chair is Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France), and the other members are Mr. Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina), Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and Mr. Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon).

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 on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Congo: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/CGIndex.aspx

The core international human rights instruments: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/index.htm#core

For further information on the mission and media requests, please write to: wgeid@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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