Enforced disappearances in the context of migration: report
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
At the 36th session of the Human Rights Council
During its 105th session, and in its 2015 annual report, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances announced that it would address diverse forms of enforced disappearances in the context of migration to determine the cause of the problem and to specify the obligations of the States to assist the victims.
A number of preliminary observations were already included in its 2016 annual report. On 5 February 2017, an expert meeting was held in Seoul, on the sidelines of the 111th session of the Working Group. In addition, a number of written contributions were received from various stakeholders, including States, in response to a questionnaire sent in December 2016.
In the report, the Working Group asserts that the phenomenon of enforced disappearance of migrants is a modern-day reality that should urgently be given adequate attention. The increasingly precarious movements of migrants undertaking long, perilous journeys, associated with often increasingly rigid migratory policies of States, have created a situation which exposes them to heightened risks of becoming victims of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances.
As outlined in the report, there is a direct link between migration and enforced disappearance, either because individuals leave their country as a consequence of a threat or risk of being subjected to enforced disappearances there, or because they disappear during their journey or in the country of destination. Disappearances take the form of abduction for political or other reasons, or occur in the context of detention or deportation processes or as a consequence of smuggling and/or trafficking.
The Working Group also analyses the factors that contribute to the enforced disappearances of migrants and outlines States’ obligations in this context, and offers conclusions and recommendations.
The Working Group concludes that States and the international community as a whole do not seem to be giving the necessary attention to this issue. However, owing to both the gravity and the complexity of this phenomenon, it is essential that each State take the problem seriously and, as a matter of priority, strengthen measures to prevent and combat it, both at the national level and — given its transnational character — the international level, through enhanced cooperation with other States as well as relevant international organizations at the regional or global level.
The States who responded to the questionnaire were El Salvador, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden and Venezuela.
Written contributions were also received from the following organizations: Groupe antiraciste de défense et d’accompagnement des étrangers et migrants; Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho; Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat; and Alternative Espace Citoyen. Kimio Yakushiji, on behalf of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, also contributed.