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Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances concludes its 118th session

Geneva, 22 May 2019  -The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) concluded its 118th session, held between 13 and 22 May 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Working Group examined under its urgent action procedure 49 reported cases of enforced disappearances that have occurred in the last few months, concerning Bangladesh, Burundi, Egypt, India, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey and Venezuela. 

It also examined 387 cases, including newly reported cases outside the urgent action procedure and updated information on previously accepted ones concerning Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Cameroon, Colombia, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Eritrea, El Salvador, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, the Republic of Korea, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and Yemen. 

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, including the upcoming visit to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan at the end of June. 

The Working Group also discussed its forthcoming study on the effective investigation of enforced disappearances, as well as the issue of disappearances carried out by Non State Actors. 

The experts met with relatives of disappeared persons, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. They also held meetings with representatives of the Governments of Argentina, France, Japan, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar and the Republic of Korea. 

The Working Group is seriously concerned as it has continued to receive information concerning acts of intimidation and reprisals committed against relatives of disappeared persons, and against NGOs working on enforced disappearances cases. It is of particular concern that some of these allegations suggest that these acts have taken place as a direct consequence of relatives and/or NGOs submitting individual cases to the Working Group. 

The Working Group calls on all Governments to immediately halt any acts of reprisals committed against individuals and groups seeking to cooperate with the Working Group, and to hold accountable those responsible for these actions.

The Working Group will hold its 119th session in Geneva, from 16 to 20 September 2019. 

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. 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 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
How to submit cases to the Working Group?
Read the Working Group’s 2018 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)