18 September 2014
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances this afternoon held separate meetings with States parties to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and with a non-governmental organization.
In the meeting with States parties, Emmanuel Decaux, Chairperson of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, said the Committee’s methodology and functions were now clearly established and recapped the session so far, as well as the Committee’s work plan for the near future. The Chairperson emphasized the need for States to submit their reports on time. The primary concern was to build on the 43 ratifications the Convention had received so far. The Chairperson hoped that the Secretary-General’s call for States to ratify the Convention by the end of September would give impetus. He also said the Committee had 18 individual cases of concern, calling the States concerned to go further in communications with the Committee and on follow-up.
Germany and France took the floor, expressing their pleasure to have been among the first States reviewed by the Committee, and pledging to support its work, including by calling on other States to ratify the Convention, because its importance would grow along with the number of ratifications. France said that the Committee’s receipt of individual communications was also very important and pledged to continue to combat reprisals against people who fought for human rights, both in the Human Rights Council and in bilateral proceedings.
In the meeting with non-governmental organizations and civil society groups, Mr. Decaux said it was very important when the Committee spoke of stakeholders it considered not only States and international organizations but also non-governmental organizations.
One non-governmental organization spoke at the meeting, Alkarama Foundation, which worked in the Arab region where the representative said the practice of enforced disappearance was seriously worsening, in countries such as Syria. She asked the Committee to encourage States from the Arab region to accede to the Convention, and reminded it that Lebanon and Algeria had signed the Convention but not yet ratified it.
The next public meeting of the Committee will be at 3 p.m. on Friday, 26 September when it will close the session after adopting its concluding observations and recommendations on the reports of Belgium and Paraguay.
Meeting with States Parties
Statement by the Committee Chairperson
EMMANUEL DECAUX, Chairperson of the Committee, said the Committee’s methodology and functions were now clearly established. He recapped the session so far, which included consideration of the initial reports of Belgium and Paraguay, countries with very different legislative systems but both were high quality dialogues, and affirmed that the Committee would adopt its concluding observations on the reports at the end of the session. The concluding observations would include follow-up requirements and a request for States parties to respond within one year on points of particular importance.
Looking ahead, Mr. Decaux said the Committee would adopt lists of issues for the reports of Mexico, Armenia and Serbia this session, and at its next session for the reports of Montenegro and Iraq. The report of Kazakhstan had recently been received, but some States parties were slightly behind on the submission of their reports. The Chairperson said the deadline for the first States that ratified the Convention to submit their initial reports was two years after ratification, which would be this December 2014. The allocation of session time to Committees was dependent upon their workload, and in order to plan ahead the Committee needed reports to be submitted on time, he emphasized.
The Committee’s primary concern was to build on the 43 ratifications the Convention had received so far, including this year by Portugal and more recently Togo. The Chairperson hoped that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for States to ratify the Convention by the end of September would give impetus, noting that in his report on the Convention the Secretary-General had received some responses, for example Switzerland had reported being quite far along in the ratification process.
Turning to individual cases, the Chairperson said there were 18 cases of concern to the Committee, and the States concerned would be listed in the report of the General Assembly. He called on the States concerned to go further in communications with the Committee and on follow-up. He also highlighted that human rights activist and leader of non-governmental organization Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Ms. Estela de Carlotto, was here in Geneva this week, and at a joint session this morning with the Committee on the Rights of the Child members had been about to express their admiration of her work to find victims of enforced disappearance. Ms. Carlotto’s work showed the combat against enforced disappearance was really starting to bear fruit, despite its ongoing nature.
Interventions by States
Germany thanked the Committee for their valuable work. It recalled the consideration of its report in March 2014, and thanked the Committee for the very positive and constructive dialogue. Germany said it was happy to have been one of the first States to be reviewed in that very important procedure.
France took the floor and also said it was also a great honour for it to have been one of the first countries to be examined by the Committee. The number of ratifications was continually increasing, with 43 to date, and which was welcomed because the Committee’s importance would grow along with the number of ratifications. The Convention was dear to France, which would of course continue to call on States to ratify it, as it systematically recommended at the Universal Periodic Review. The individual communications were very important as well, and France would continue to combat reprisals against people who fought for human rights, both in the Human Rights Council and in bilateral proceedings.
Response by Committee Experts
Committee Experts took the floor to say they had the impression dialogues with States were very positive, and thanked Germany and France for their supportive comments. The high level of technical competence of the delegations which had come before the Committee so far was strongly commended, which showed how important State parties took the Convention, said an Expert.
Meeting with Non-Governmental Organizations
Statement by the Committee Chairperson
EMMANUEL DECAUX, Chairperson of the Committee, spoke about the Committee’s engagement with non-governmental organizations which extended well beyond the meeting today, but said it was very important when the Committee spoke of stakeholders it considered not only States and international organizations but also non-governmental organizations.
Statements by non-governmental organizations
A representative of Alkarame Foundation thanked the Committee for responding promptly to the urgent appeals it had made over the last month. Alkarame Foundation worked in the Arab region where the practice of enforced disappearance was becoming seriously worse in countries such as Syria, she said. The speaker asked the Committee to encourage States from the Arab region to ratify the Convention, which would be another tool in the Foundation’s tool-box to address the issue. She also noted that Tunisia’s report was overdue, and reminded the Committee that Lebanon and Algeria had signed the Convention but not yet ratified it.
Response by Committee Experts
EMMANUEL DECAUX, Chairperson of the Committee, said the Committee’s concern was to be absolutely responsive to urgent appeals, although they couldn’t be further discussed in a public meeting. He agreed it was important to tackle the delayed submission of reports. The Chairperson noted that Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, which hadn’t ratified the Convention, were present at a public meeting with the Committee earlier in the session, which was a positive sign. He also noted that States who had signed the Convention were usually asked to ratify it during the Universal Periodic Review. Each State had to be approached on a case by case basis, he added.
An Expert spoke about work to encourage Arab States to accede to the Convention. He spoke about his initiative with national human rights institutions across the Arab region to organize free of charge conferences to raise awareness of the Convention. He also added some countries of the Arab region had an inaccurate view of what the Convention was about.
EMMANUEL DECAUX, Chairperson of the Committee, said non-governmental organizations had broadcast some of the constructive dialogues with States parties in the past, and regretted the initiative hadn’t continued this session. He would like to see the filming and archiving of the review exercise in video format either by the United Nations or another body. Uruguay, France, Argentina and Spain’s reviews were all filmed, he recalled. In closing, the Chairperson noted that Mexico, Armenia and Serbia would be reviewed at the eighth session, all significant countries given the subject matter.
For use of the information media; not an official record