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Enforced disappearances: UN expert group reviews more than 1000 cases from 40 countries

GENEVA (3 May 2018) – The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances concluded its 115th session held from 23 April to 2 May in Geneva, Switzerland, where it examined more than 1000 cases from 40 countries. The group is composed of five independent human rights experts, from different regions of the world.

More than 40 reported cases of enforced disappearances that have occurred in the last few months concerning Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia were reviewed under the urgent procedure. The Working Group also considered more than 900 cases of newly reported cases of enforced disappearances outside the urgent procedure as well as updated information on previously accepted cases. The newly reported cases concern Algeria, Bangladesh, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine.

Other countries examined during the session include Argentina, Bolivia, Belarus, Ecuador, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Peru, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam and Yemen.

The Group also met with relatives of persons who have disappeared, State authorities from different countries (including Egypt, Japan, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Sudan and Thailand), civil society representatives and other stakeholders to exchange information on individual cases as well as on the efforts made, or lack thereof, to address this heinous crime around the globe.

The experts examined allegations received regarding obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. It reviewed responses from various Governments to the prompt intervention letters, general allegations and urgent appeals sent to them by the WG. Methods of work and future activities, including its planned country visits for 2018 and its next thematic report on standards and public policies for an effective investigation of enforced disappearances, were also discussed.

The Working Group’s next thematic report intends to provide States with concrete tools for the implementation of the obligation to investigate disappearances effectively, exhaustively and impartially, as established by international human rights instruments. It also hopes to serve as a resource for civil society, family organizations, national human rights institutions and other actors involved, to guide States in the fight against enforced disappearances.

The Working Group will hold its 116th session in Geneva, from 10 to 14 September 2018.


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. Bernard Duhaime (Canada) and the Vice-Chair is Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Republic of Korea); other members are Ms. Houria Es-Slami (Morocco); Mr. Luciano Hazan (Argentina) and Mr. Henrikas Mickevicius (Lithuania).

The Working Group was established by the then 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 also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

For more information on the Working Group, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx
How to submit cases to the Working Group?: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/issues/Disappearances/Communication_form_E.doc

Read the Working Group’s 2015 report to the UN Human Rights Council and post-sessional documents

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Ugo Cedrangolo (+41 22 9179286, ucedrangolo@ohchr.org or wgeid@ohchr.org)