Committee on Enforced Disappearances
9 November 2012
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances closed its third session this afternoon after adopting the report of the two-week session.
At its closing meeting, Emmanuel Decaux, Chairperson of the Committee, said this had been an extremely fruitful, rich and busy session. The Committee was now up and running, fully operational and ready to start its work. The Committee had met with the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances and the fact that the two bodies existed must make them scale up their efforts to fight enforced disappearances, rather than step on each other’s toes. There were potential synergies to be found concerning country visits for example. At the same time, they must avoid sending conflicting signals to States. Concerning States parties reports, the Chairperson said that to avoid backlog, they must either consider three-week sessions twice a year, or a third session annually. The Committee was also determined to look at the situation in States parties even if there was no report. Under the Convention, the Committee could also request field visits. Mr. Decaux thanked all his colleagues on the Committee as well as all members of the secretariat and others.
Luciano Hazan, the Committee’s Rapporteur, presented the report of the third session whose aim was to set forth their willingness to be open, to listen to all stakeholders and to give account of their work. The Committee had continued to work on its working methods and had adopted working methods under articles 30, 31 and 33 on urgent measures, individual communications and visits. It also discussed a strategy to increase ratification of the Convention by States; working methods with civil society; and how to tackle reports as the first 20 States parties to the Convention were due to present their initial reports in December. The report also outlined the Committee’s cooperation with other relevant bodies in the United Nations system and the meetings with the Human Rights Committee and the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances. The report included the Committee’s discussion on two urgent actions received during the intersessional period concerning five enforced disappearances in one State, and adopted a declaration on the treaty body strengthening process.
Mr. Hazan said the report noted that the fourth session of the Committee would meet from 8 to 19 April 2013 and the fifth session from 1 to 15 November 2013 in Geneva. The three thematic discussions the Committee held during the session discussed the responsibility of States and non-State actors, trafficking in human beings and enforced disappearances, and the principle of non-refoulement and expulsion. The report also described all the meetings the Committee held with stakeholders, States parties and other States, a forensic coordinator from the Committee of the Red Cross, different United Nations bodies and international organizations, and civil society organizations, including associations of victims of enforced disappearances.
The report and other documents related to the Committee’s third session will be available at the following link. Other information concerning the Committee can be found here.
At its opening meeting on 29 October, the Committee was addressed by Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who reiterated the support of the Office for the work of the Committee and welcomed the intended discussion on the responsibility of States and the role of non-State actors in enforced disappearances, which with other thematic priorities demonstrated the willingness and determination of the Committee to apply the Convention in light of broader viewpoints and with a strong victim perspective.
Also at the opening meeting, Mr. Decaux said that the third session marked a transition from the previous two sessions which were technical in nature and that a number of concrete situations were already on the Committee’s radar.
During its two-week session, the Committee participated in an event marking the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which was organized by the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances to explore best practices and challenges to protect women from enforced disappearances. Addressing the event, Mr. Decaux said that the Working Group and the Committee were complementary and must reinforce each other; they had different mandates and methods of work, but shared the same objective of the fight against the heinous crime of enforced disappearances.
The Committee also held three separate interactive discussions with States parties, national human rights institutions and international organizations, and with non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. At that meeting, Mr. Decaux said that everything was in place for the full functioning of the Committee, which included the momentum towards the complex process of ratification; good functioning of the Committee; cooperation with its partners, particularly with the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; relationship with the Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture; and contacts with all stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations.
In a public meeting with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the methodology of engagement, the Committee appreciated the contributions of civil society and NGOs in encouraging States to ratify the Convention as well as the Optional Protocol and ensuring that States parties were implementing the provisions of the Convention. The Committee was also interested in any information that NGOs could share with it on States parties. The Committee could take on board all information, especially any information concerning grave violations which could trigger the Convention’s mechanism and enable the Committee to inform the General Assembly. The Committee also allowed NGOs to be authors or co-authors of urgent action requests or individual communications.
Members of civil society participating in the meeting noted that the Committee wanted to be action-oriented, which corresponded to the provisions of the Convention and the aspirations of the victims. Associations set up by relatives of disappeared persons should have a special relation with the Committee and specific provisions for their work with the Committee should be established, as most of these associations did not have ECOSOC status. NGOs also requested that victims or their relatives and associations be allowed to address the Committee in public or in private and to submit communications and country shadow reports. Victims should also be fully informed of the Committee’s deliberations and decisions. The victims and their associations had the right to be protected from reprisals. Also, the Committee should reflect on the creation of a voluntary fund for the implementation of the Convention.
Other issues raised included webcasting the session’s of the Committee, the importance of consultations to be held with NGOs ahead of consideration of a report, and the protection of NGOs from reprisals.
The fourth session of the Committee will be held from 8 to 19 April 2013.
For use of the information media; not an official record