Comoros: UN experts decry enforced disappearance in defiance of international law


18 March 2021


GENEVA (18 March 2021) – UN human rights experts* today called on the Government of Comoros to immediately reveal the fate and whereabouts of Mr. Inssa Mohamed, better known as Bobocha, and demonstrate full commitment to international law. 

“We condemn in the strongest terms the secret detention of Mr. Bobocha since his manifestly unlawful extradition from Madagascar to Comoros, on 27 January 2021,” the experts said.

Bobocha, who is accused of terrorism-related offences, has been arbitrarily held in a secret location with no contact with the outside world for almost 50 days. “We are particularly alarmed by the irregularities of the extradition procedures and the secrecy surrounding his place of detention, which raises serious concerns about his physical and mental integrity and whether he is still alive,” the experts said.

“We are urging the Comorian Government to provide proof of life, disclose the location in which Mr. Bobocha has been held since his arrival to Comoros and show full commitment to international human rights law,” the experts said. “Enforced disappearance cannot be justified under any circumstance and may amount to a form of torture and ill-treatment.”

Bobocha had sought asylum in Madagascar following consistent threats and intimidation and had refugee status when he was illegally extradited to Comoros in a manifest breach of international refugee law and human rights law.

The said concerns about the alleged involvement of the Military in the irregular extradition and continuous arbitrary detention of Bobocha are exacerbated in light of the obstructed access to places of detention under their authority, which the Special Rapporteur on Torture encountered during his official visit to Comoros in 2019.

“Despite credible allegations of intimidation, ill-treatment and excessive use of force at the hands of the Military, access to places of deprivation of liberty under their authority were seriously obstructed, preventing independent monitoring and creating an environment of impunity,” experts said.

The experts said they were further surprised that the General Prosecutor has claimed to lack jurisdiction in the case of Bobocha and is unaware of his fate or whereabouts.

It is notorious that enforced disappearance places victims outside the protection of the law depriving them of the right to be recognized as persons before the law and of all fundamental safeguards and guarantees of fair trial, including the right to access to family, lawyer or medical examination and challenging the legality of their detention before a judicial authority. “The Comorian authorities must guarantee the full exercise of Mr. Bobocha’s safeguards and guarantee his fair trial,” the experts said.

“We urge authorities to conduct an independent and thorough investigation into the institutional and criminal responsibilities for Mr. Bobocha’s disappearance and arbitrary detention with a view to end impunity,” the experts said. “The authorities must also ensure the right to redress, rehabilitation and compensation to the victim and his family.”

The experts will continue to engage with the Comorian authorities and closely monitor the situation.


* The experts: Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Chair), Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius, (Vice Chair), Mr. Luciano Hazan, Mr. Bernard Duhaime, and Ms. Aua Balde, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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