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UN expert panel to study over 300 cases of disappearances

GENEVA (3 November 2010) – The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) has started reviewing more than 300 cases of disappearances, and recently submitted information on previously accepted cases and other communications concerning more than 40 countries.

During its 92nd session, which is taking place at the UN headquarters in Geneva from 3-12 November, the panel of independent experts will exchange views on individual cases under consideration and on the phenomenon of enforced disappearances, through meetings with Government delegations, other UN bodies, families of victims and civil society representatives.

The Working Group has considered more than 50,000 cases during the 30 years since its creation, on 29 February 1980, by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

On Friday 5 November 2010, the group of experts will commemorate its 30th anniversary with a special two-panel event* introduced by the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Kyung-wha Kang: “The WGEID: stories and history” in the morning, and “The WGEID: 30 years of evolution and the way forward,” in the afternoon.

Both panels will join together well-know experts in the fight against enforced disappearances, as well as the current members of the Working Group. The event will take place on Friday 5 November 2010, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, room XIX, at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. The WGEID 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 WGEID’s humanitarian mandate, clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person is clearly established. The WGEID 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 Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. Jeremy J. Sarkin (South Africa) and the other Expert-Members are Mr. Arial Dulitzky (Argentina), Ms. Jasminka Duzmhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France), and Mr. Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon).

(*): Check the programme of the WGEID’s commemorative event: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/disappear/commemoration30WGEID.htm

Lear more about the WGEID, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/disappear/index.htm

For more information and media requests, please contact Matías Pellado (Tel: +41 22 917 9336 / email: mpellado@ohchr.org) or write to wgeid@ohchr.org).