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UN Working Group on Disappearances concluded its 86th Session and adopted Annual Report

5 December 2008

GENEVA -- The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances concluded its 86th session, which was held from 26 November to 4 December 2008 at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

The Working Group examined 21 reported cases under its urgent action procedure. The Working Group also reviewed 505 newly-reported cases of enforced disappearances and information recently submitted on previously accepted cases from the following 35 countries: Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cameroun, China, Colombia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, India, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam. Government responses to general allegations from Italy, Montenegro and the United States of America were also reviewed.

The Working Group continues to be concerned about the high number of recent cases of disappearances in Sri Lanka reported during 2008.

Upon the initiative of the Working Group, meetings were requested with all regional groups. The Working Group wishes to thank the Asian and the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Groups for the fruitful meetings held, and looks forward to meeting with all other regional groups in the near future, as part of an ongoing initiative. Meetings were also held with NGOs and family members of the disappeared and representatives of the Governments of Iraq, Japan, Montenegro and Nepal to exchange views on individual cases and on the issue of enforced disappearances.

The Working Group also examined allegations submitted by non-governmental organizations regarding obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Declaration in their respective countries, and decided to transmit three general allegations to governments in Africa and Asia. The allegations concerned an escalating number of disappearances, the obligation to investigate all cases of enforced disappearances and the lack of effective legislative, judicial, and administrative measures to end enforced disappearances.

The Working Group adopted a revised version of its methods of work whereby some adjustments were incorporated.

During this session, the Working Group finalized and approved its 2008 annual report, which includes chapters on 82 States. The report also includes all new cases and those already under consideration, as well as the Working Group’s major concerns and observations.

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. The Working Group 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.

The Working Group is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chairman-Rapporteur is Mr. Santiago Corcuera (Mexico), and the other Expert-Members are Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France), Mr. Darko Gottlicher (Croatia), Mr. Saied Rajaie Khorasani (Islamic Republic of Iran) and Mr. Jeremy J. Sarkin (South Africa).

For more information on the WGEID, please refer to the web site: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/disappear/index.htm