COMMITTEE ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES

Summary of the 19th session of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances

In view of the precautionary measures adopted to face the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee held its 19th session online. The public meetings of the Committee were webcast on UN Web TV. The videos of  all public meetings can be viewed online: opening statements, Joint webinars with the WGEID (329th and 331st meetings), Consideration of additional information from Iraq (333rd and 334th meetings) as well as the closing ceremony.

1. Adoption of List of Issues (LOI)

During the 19th Session, the Committee adopted lists of issues in relation to the initial reports of Greece, the Czech Republic, and Niger, and a list of issues in the absence of a report for Mali.

2. Consideration of State reports

Due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the review of the initial reports of Mongolia and Switzerland, and of the additional information submitted by Colombia had to be postponed.

The Committee however maintained its interactive dialogue on the additional information submitted by Iraq in compliance with article 29(4) of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED). The dialogue took place online on 5 and 7 October 2020. The videos of the 333rd and 334th public meetings are publicly accessible in English and Arabic.

The Committee discussed with Iraq the implementation of its obligations under the Convention. The dialogue focused on the evolution of Iraq’s strategies to prevent enforced disappearances, the search for disappeared persons and the investigation of alleged enforced disappearances, and the interaction of the State party with the Committee for the treatment of Urgent Actions submitted under article 30 of the Convention. 

Following this dialogue, the Committee adopted its observations on additional information on 25 November 2020 (CED/C/IRQ/OAI/1). In these observations, the Committee welcomed actions undertaken by Iraq regarding enforced disappearances committed in the country, including the setting up of two fact-finding committees in 2016 and 2018, and the drafting of the Bill on the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The Committee however highlighted with regret the persistence of a pattern of enforced disappearance over much of the territory of the State party, and that impunity and revictimization prevail in these cases. It conveyed specific recommendations to the State party related to the need to ensure the full  compliance of the Bill on Enforced disappearances with the Convention, the lack of reliable data on cases of enforced disappearance and the large quantity of unidentified bodies and mass graves, and secret detentions. The Committee finally requested the State party to provide, no later than 25 November 2021, specific, up-to-date information on the implementation each of the recommendations contained in the observations as well as on additional information, with a particular focus on the following themes: a) progress in the review, adoption and implementation of the legislation on enforced disappearances; b) secret detention; c) reparation to victims; and d) legislation and practice concerning the wrongful removal of children.

3. Examination of individual complaints

The Committee also examined an individual complaint submitted under article 31 of the Convention against France. In its decision, E.L.A. v France (CED/C/19/D/3/2019), the Committee concluded that the removal of the author to Sri Lanka would amount to a violation of article 16 of the Convention and requested the State party to examine the author’s asylum application in light of the Convention and of the Committee’s decision, and not to expel him while his application is pending before domestic courts.

4. Reports on Urgent Actions, follow-up to Views and follow-up to concluding observations

During the 19th Session, the Committee adopted three reports:

  • Report on follow-up to Concluding Observations: in this report, the Committee assesses the measures taken by States parties to implement the recommendations contained in its concluding observations. The report adopted at the 19th session (CED/C/19/4) reflects the information received by the Committee between its 15th and 19th sessions in follow-up to its concluding observations on Gabon, Lithuania, Albania, Austria, Honduras, Japan, Portugal, Chile and Italy.
  • Report on Urgent Actions: in the report on Urgent Actions adopted at the 19th session (CED/C/19/2), the Committee makes a balance of the Urgent Actions registered since the 17th session, and describes the main trends observed and the jurisprudence it has adopted in relation to all registered Urgent Actions.
  • Report on follow-up to individual complaints: in this kind of reports, the Committee assesses the measures taken by the State party against which an individual complaint was submitted, to implement the recommendations contained in its decisions. In the report adopted at the 19th session (CED/C/19/3), the Committee assessed the latest measures taken by the State party to implement its decision in Yrusta v Argentina (CED/C/10/D/1/2013).

5. Joint activities with the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID)

On 18 September 2020, the Committee and the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) adopted joint Key Guidelines on Enforced Disappearances in the context of COVID 19.

On the occasion of their respective anniversaries, the Working Group and the Committee held joint public webinars on the search for disappeared persons and the investigation of their disappearances (Part I), and on the way to tackle impunity for cases of enforced disappearance and promote victim centred approaches (Part II). These events can still be viewed online. They counted with the participation of speakers from States (Argentina, France, Japan and Morocco), experts and ex-members of the two mechanisms, regional mechanisms (IAHRC and ACHPR), and with victims and representatives of NGOs and NHRIs that support them.

6. Next session of the Committee: 20th session - 12 to 23 April 2021

The 20th session of the Committee is scheduled from 12 to 23 April 2021. As indicated in the information note sent on 10 November 2020 and available on the webpage of the Session, the current agenda of the session Committee includes the following activities (agenda subject to changes depending on the evolution of the prevailing circumstances related to the COVID 19 pandemic):

  • Examination of initial reports under article 29(1) of the Convention: Switzerland and Mongolia
  • Examination of additional information under article 29(4) of the Convention: Colombia (dialogue), France (desk review), Spain (desk review)
  • List of Issues in the Absence of a Report: Zambia

Details on how to contribute to the work of the Committee and deadlines for written contributions are available in the “Information note for Victims, Civil Society Organizations and NHRIs” for the 20th session.

7. Additional Information

Links concerning the 19th session:

Links for further information

Contact Information

Secretariat of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mailing address:
UNOG-OHCHR,
CH-1211 Geneva 10,
Switzerland

The Committee periodically publishes a newsletter to strengthen its links and interaction with victims, civil society organizations, National Human Rights Institutions, experts, State authorities and other stakeholders, and to inform about the Committee’s work and the way to contribute to it. The newsletter provides information about the activities of CED, its sessions and the decisions and recommendations adopted in that context, and about all relevant developments related to the Committee’s work. Interested stakeholders can subscribe to this newsletter by sending an email to ced@ohchr.org.

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