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Enforced disappearance … not only a crime

(Joint statement by the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances and the Committee on enforced disappearances
to mark the second United Nations International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances – 30 August 2012)

“I am also looking for my grandson, who was born during the enforced disappearance of his mother, a little boy who should be 33 years old now. And I do not know where he is. This is what gets me involved in the world struggle against the enforced disappearances of people.”
(A grandmother of a disappeared)

GENEVA (30 August 2012) – “Enforced disappearance is not only a crime’ said two United Nations expert bodies working on the issue of enforced disappearance* today on the occasion of the second UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. “It is an act that negates the very essence of humanity and is contrary to the deepest values of any society”.

“Such a practice cannot and should not be tolerated nor justified whether it is used to counter terrorism or fight organized crime or suppress legitimate demands concerning issues such as democracy, freedom of expression or freedom of religion”, added the experts.

In the year marking the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances reminds States to continue promoting and giving full effect to the Declaration as well as to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which recently entered into force.

“Twenty years have passed since the adoption of the Declaration. However, the practice of enforced disappearance is still used in certain countries to repress individuals and intimidate people claiming their rights”, observed the experts of the Working Group. “In other countries, situations of the past have not been dealt with in an appropriate manner. All families of the disappeared, even though those disappearances occurred decades before, should enjoy the right to the truth, the right to justice, and the right to reparation”.

“We have a new Convention to respect and implement. A Convention to bring to life, honouring those who disappeared, and yet still so present, and we have lives that we can still save” said the members of the Committee paying tribute to the victims of enforced disappearance and their relatives on this day of remembrance and renewed hope.

“Thousands of cases of enforced disappearance continue to be unresolved. Behind each is a personal story. We should never forget that throughout the world there are mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters, sons and friends who are still waiting to know the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.

This special day is dedicated to all victims of enforced disappearance and those who help them in their struggle for truth and justice. Today, we renew our joint resolution to work towards the elimination of this heinous practice and underscore our commitment to join forces to help bring truth to the families. We also call upon all States clearly to commit, during this day, to eradicating this crime and to ratify the Convention in order to attain its universal ratification so that the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance becomes a reality.”

ENDS

The Working Group was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate or 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. It continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. For more information on the Working Group, please 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

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