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Victims-Centred Perspective Needed in Combat against Enforced Disappearances

NEW YORK (24 October 2013) – “Better protection is needed for all those working to eradicate enforced disappearances” said the Chairs of two United Nations expert bodies addressing the General Assembly on this issue today .

The Chairs of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances share the concerns of other mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council, on the issue of reprisals. “There is the need to better protect relatives and civil society groups working on issues related to enforced disappearances, including those who are directly or indirectly reporting violations to the Committee and the Working Group, against the risk of intimidation and threats to their lives” said the experts.

The experts also noted how the brutal nature of enforced disappearances requires that all parties work quickly and constructively to ensure its eradication, and, when perpetrated, that the fate and whereabouts of the person are promptly determined, that there is no impunity and that reparations are secured: “We believe that efforts to combat enforced disappearances require a victim-centered perspective that seeks an integrated long-term approach to adequate justice, truth, memory and reparation”, they stressed.

Presenting the second report of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to the General Assembly, its Chair, Emmanuel Decaux, stated that the Committee has now entered the implementation phase. It started examining the reports submitted by the State parties, and receiving requests to activate its urgent action procedure to locate and protect disappeared persons as well as individual complaints on violations of the rights protected by the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. “I welcome the commitment of the 40 States Parties and the contribution of all the stakeholders, in particular of the associations of families of disappeared persons and civil society at large. I call on Member States that have not ratified yet the Convention to do so”, he added.

In the year that the Working Group marks the holding of its 100th session, its Chair-Rapporteur, Ariel Dulitzky, emphasized the need to identify and develop new strategies to confront current day challenges to eliminate the crime of enforced disappearance. “New policies should be adopted, creative techniques ought to be used and innovative means must be devised in order to resolve the individual cases of enforced disappearances, including those being examined by the Working Group”, he observed.

“We emphasize the role of associations of relatives and NGOs who are mobilizing against enforced disappearances in their countries. It is becoming increasingly difficult for them to find financial support for what is often perceived as a “politicized” issue. It is a responsibility of Governments and donors to strongly support those relatives and organizations who are asking for justice, truth and reparation and who are taking all the risks, on behalf of all of us”, concluded the United Nations experts.

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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. Santiago Corcuera Cabezut (Mexico), 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) and Mr. Kimio Yakushiji (Japan).

UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/IntConventionEnforcedDisappearance.aspx

For more information and media requests on the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, please contact Maria Giovanna Bianchi (Tel: +41 22 917 9189 / email: mced@ohchr.org

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The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances was established by the UN 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 are 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. For more information on the Working Group, 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. Ariel Dultzky (Argentina), and the other Expert-members are Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France), Ms. Jasminka Džumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mr. Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon, Vice-Chair), and Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa).

UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/EnforcedDisappearance.aspx

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 mwgeid@ohchr.org