Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances - Procedures

Urgent procedures

Cases of enforced disappearances that occurred within the three months preceding receipt of the report by the Working Group are transmitted to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the country concerned by the most direct and rapid means. Their transmission can be authorized by the Chairperson on the basis of a specific delegation of power given to him by the Working Group. Cases which 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 some connection with a case which occurred within the three-month period, can be transmitted between sessions by letter, upon authorization by the Chairperson. WGEID notifies sources that an urgent action has been sent to the concerned Government, thus helping it to enter into communication with the authorities about the specific case.

Urgent appeals

When credible allegations are received that a person has been arrested, detained, abducted, or otherwise deprived of his liberty and has been enforcedly 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 requesting 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 him 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 disappearances that are reported after three months are placed before WGEID for detailed examination during its sessions. Those which fulfill the requirements outlined above are transmitted, upon the Working Group’s specific authorization, to the Governments concerned with the request that they carry out investigations in order to clarify the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, and inform the Working Group of the results. These cases are communicated by letter from the Group’s Chairperson to the Government concerned through the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

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.

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.