Procedures of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

One aspect of the mandate of the Working Group is to assist families in determining the fate or whereabouts of their disappeared relatives who are placed outside the protection of the law.

To this end, the Working Group endeavours to establish a channel of communication between the families and the States concerned, with a view to ensuring that sufficiently documented and clearly identified individual cases are investigated with a view to clarifying the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared persons. The WGEID form should be used to submit individual cases.

Urgent procedure

Cases of enforced disappearance that have occurred within the three months prior to the receipt of a report by the Working Group are transmitted to the State concerned through the most direct and rapid means possible.
Cases that have occurred prior to the three-month limit, but not more than one year before the date of their receipt by the Secretariat, provided that they had a connection with a case that occurred within the three-month period, may be transmitted between sessions by letter upon authorization by the Chair-Rapporteur.
The Working Group notifies sources that an urgent action has been sent to the State concerned, thus helping relatives or the source to enter into communication with the relevant authorities.

Urgent appeals

When credible allegations are received that a person has been arrested, detained, abducted, or otherwise deprived of their liberty and has been forcibly disappeared or is at risk of being disappeared, the Working Group will transmit those allegations to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Government concerned by the most direct and rapid means. The Working Group will request said Government to carry out investigations to clarify the fate or whereabouts of the person(s) concerned and to inform the Working Group about the results. The transmission of urgent appeals is authorized by the Chairperson on the basis of a specific delegation of power given to them by the Group.

Urgent appeals will be reflected in the annual report of the Working Group but will not be counted in the statistics of the Government concerned. However, should the information contained therein be provided in accordance with the requirements listed under “Admissibility of cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances” and “Elements for admissibility”, the urgent appeal will become a standard or urgent case as appropriate in which case the Government concerned will be informed by separate communication.

Standard procedures

Cases of enforced disappearance that are reported after three months are brought before the Working Group for detailed examination during its sessions. Those cases are transmitted, upon the specific authorization of the Working Group, to the States concerned with the request to carry out investigations in order to clarify the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, and to inform the Working Group of the results. Such cases are communicated by letter from the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group to the States concerned.

Any substantive additional information which the sources submit on an outstanding case is placed before the Working Group and, following its approval, transmitted to the Government concerned.

Prompt interventions

Cases of intimidation, persecution or reprisal against relatives of disappeared persons, witnesses to disappearances or their families, members of organizations of relatives and other non-governmental organizations, human rights defenders or individuals concerned with disappearances are transmitted to the pertinent Governments, with the appeal that they take steps to protect all the fundamental rights of the persons affected. Cases of that nature, which require prompt intervention, are transmitted directly to the Ministers for Foreign Affairs by the most direct and rapid means. To that end, the WGEID has authorized its Chairperson to transmit such cases between sessions.

General allegations

The WGEID regularly transmits to the Governments concerned a summary of allegations received from relatives of disappeared persons and non-governmental organizations with regard to obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Declaration in their respective countries, inviting them to comment thereon if they so wish. See a list of all previously transmitted General allegations here.

Cooperation with other mechanisms

If a case or allegation contains information relevant to other thematic mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, the information is transmitted to the mechanism concerned.
Where appropriate, the WGEID may join other mechanisms in the actions they take within the scope of their respective mandates. See all communications issued by the WGEID, jointly with other special procedure mandates.