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Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances concludes its 120th session

Geneva, 14 February 2020

The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) concluded its 120th session, held between 10 and 14 February in Geneva, Switzerland.

To mark the launch of its 40th Anniversary campaign, the Working Group hosted a public event during which it presented new audio-visual materials on the mandate of the Working Group, its history, and ways to engage with its humanitarian procedure.

During the session, the Working Group examined 29 reported cases of enforced disappearances it had transmitted under its urgent action procedure since September 2019, concerning China, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, and Venezuela.

It also reviewed 597 cases, including newly reported cases outside the urgent action procedure and updated information on previously transmitted cases concerning Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, China, Colombia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, the State of Palestine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syria, the Russian Federation, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Yemen.

In the spirit of its humanitarian mandate, the Working Group also discussed disappearances perpetrated by non-state actors and took steps to document these cases.

The Working Group also reviewed responses from various Governments to prompt intervention letters, general allegations and urgent appeals. It also adopted new general allegations and discussed its future and potential country visits.

Alarmed by the pervasiveness of the issue, the Working Group examined allegations of enforced disappearances occurring in the context of state-sponsored extraterritorial abductions.

The experts met with relatives of disappeared persons, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. They also held formal meetings with representatives of the Governments of Croatia, Japan, Pakistan, Portugal and Turkmenistan.

The Working Group will hold its 121st session in May 2020.

ENDS

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. Luciano Hazan (Argentina) and the Vice-Chair is Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Republic of Korea); other members are Ms. Houria Es-Slami (Morocco), Mr. Bernard Duhaime (Canada) and Mr. Henrikas Mickevicius (Lithuania).

The Working Group was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed outside the protection of the law. It continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. The Working Group also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

More information on the Working Group

See how to submit cases to the Working Group in this new animated video.

Read the Working Group's 2019 report to the UN Human Rights Council and post-sessional documents

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Gabriela Guzman (+41 (0)22 928 9452, gguzman@ohchr.org or wgeid@ohchr.org)