Geneva, 2 October 2020
The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) concluded its 122nd session, which took place remotely between 21 and 30 September.
In continuing to mark the 40th anniversary of the Working Group in 2020, the expert group convened together with the Committee on Enforced Disappearances two public webinars on the search and investigation of enforced disappearances, on 23 September and 25 September. The Working Group also convened an online expert panel on Missing persons and memory governance, together with the T.M.C. Asser Institute.
During the session, the Working Group examined 38 reported cases of enforced disappearances it had transmitted under its urgent action procedure since 15 May 2020, concerning Belarus, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Libya, Pakistan, Qatar, Rwanda, Venezuela and Yemen.
It also reviewed 782 cases, including newly reported cases outside the urgent action procedure and updated information on previously transmitted cases concerning Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Colombia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Iran, Iraq, Lao People’s Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mexico, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tanzania, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Yemen.
During the session, Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Republic of Korea) was elected as the new Chair Rapporteur of the Working Group, and Mr. Henrikas Mickevicius (Lithuania) as the Vice-Chair.
The Working Group also reviewed responses from various Governments to prompt intervention letters, general allegations and urgent appeals. It adopted new general allegations, discussed its future and potential country visits, and held preliminary discussions on the content of an upcoming thematic report on enforced disappearances occurring in the context of extraterritorial transfers, as well as a General Comment on Article 7 of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
The experts also met with relatives of disappeared persons, non-governmental organizations, State representatives and other stakeholders.
The session of the Working Group coincided with the 45th session of the Human Rights Council, during which the Working Group presented its annual report of activities, communications and cases; a thematic report on standards and public policies for an effective investigation of enforced disappearances; reports on country visits to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and the follow-up report to the recommendations made during a past made during a past visit to Turkey.
The Working Group will hold its 123rd session in February 2021.
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. Tae-Ung Baik (Republic of Korea); and the Vice-Chair is Mr. Henrikas Mickevicius (Lithuania); other members are Ms. Houria Es-Slami (Morocco), Mr. Bernard Duhaime (Canada) and Mr. Luciano Hazan (Argentina).
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
Watch and learn more about the history of the Working Group, and on how to submit a caseto the Working Group.
Read the eight Key Guidelines on COVID – 19 and Enforced Disappearances, issued by the Working Group jointly with the Committee on Enforced Disappearances.
Read the Working Group's 2020 report to the UN Human Rights Council and post-sessional documents
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