COMMITTEE ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES

Individual complaints

In accordance with article 31 of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), any individual claiming to be victim of a violation of rights protected under the Convention can submit a complaint (also called a ‘communication ’).

The individual communication procedure only applies to States parties that have made a declaration to accept the competence of the Committee to examine individual complaints under article 31. This declaration can be made by the State when becoming a party to the ICPPED, or at any time afterwards. Check if a State party has made this declaration in the section ‘Declarations recognizing the competence of the Committee under articles 31 and 32’.

Communications may be submitted by the victim of an alleged violation, or by another person with the written consent of the victim (no specific form is required). If the communication is submitted on behalf of a disappeared person, consent from that person is obviously not required. The authors of the communication must however explain why they consider that they have a legitimate interest to make the submission.

Elements to take into account before submitting an individual complaint

The Committee will only be able to register individual complaints that comply with a series of criteria (see a dmissibility criteria, art. 31, para. 2, of the ICCPED and rule 65, para. 3 of the Rules of procedure):

  • The communication must not be anonymous.
  • The communication must not constitute an “abuse of the right of submission” (for example, it must not aim at sharing aggressive ideas against an institution or person), and it must not be incompatible with the provisions of the ICPPED (this means that the subject of the complaint must fall within the issues covered by the Convention).
  • The same matter (i.e. same author, same facts and same substantive rights) must not be in the process of being examined under another procedure of international investigation or settlement of the same nature (e.g., the Human Rights Committee; the Committee Against Torture, or regional human rights mechanisms such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights or the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights). This does not include complaints submitted under the Human Rights Council’s Complaint Procedure or to Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteurs or Working Groups, because these are not considered as “procedures of investigation or settlement of the same nature”.
  • The alleged victims must have exhausted all available domestic remedies. This means that they must have taken their case to the highest degree of jurisdiction that is competent in the country before taking it to the Committee. If they have not exhausted domestic remedies, they must demonstrate that the application of these remedies would be unreasonably prolonged or that they are ineffective or inaccessible (mere doubts on the part of the author about the effectiveness or accessibility of domestic remedies are not sufficient: specific data or existing jurisprudence must be provided).

    For the Committee to have the competence to intervene, the alleged victim must be subject to a jurisdiction of the State party to the ICPPED, and the alleged violation must have occurred after the entry into force of the ICPPED in the State party concerned.
  • As far as the date of occurrence of a disappearance is concerned, the CED cannot deal with individual communications concerning enforced disappearances as such which commenced before the entry into force of the ICPPED for the State concerned (see Statement by the Committee on Enforced Disappearances on the ratione temporis element in the review of reports submitted by States Parties under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance). Bearing in mind the continuous nature of several obligations undertaken under the ICPPED and the continuing effects of an enforced disappearance, a communication concerning the breach of the ongoing obligations due to acts or omissions attributable to the State perpetrated after the entry into force of the ICPPED might be declared admissible. These decisions are taken by the Committee on a case-by-case basis.   

Contact information

Complaints are received centrally by the Petitions team who is in charge of transmitting them to the Committee. Please submit communications in writing, preferably by email (in Word format) to: petitions@ohchr.org

Or by post to:
Petitions and Inquiries Section/Committee on Enforced Disappearances
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
8-14 Avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneve 10, Switzerland

More resources

Stand Up for the victims of enforced disappearance

Stand up for the victims of enforced disappearance: Time to ratify the Convention! 

Country-specific information