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UN WORKING GROUP ON ENFORCED OR INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES CONCLUDES ITS 83RD SESSION, REVISES METHODS OF WORK AND ADOPTS ANNUAL REPORT
30 November 2007
The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances issued the following statement today:
Geneva, 30 November 2007: - -The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances concluded its 83rd session, which was held from 21 to 30 November 2007 at the United Nations Office in Geneva.
The Working Group examined 20 reported cases under its urgent action procedure. The Working Group also reviewed 540 cases of newly enforced disappearances as well as recently submitted information on previously accepted cases from 38 countries, including Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Chad, China, Colombia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe.
The Working Group expresses its appreciation to the Governments of Argentina, Morocco and Yemen for the large number of outstanding cases clarified during 2007.
However, the Working is concerned about the important number of recent cases of disappearances reported during 2007 from Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Meetings were held with NGOs and family members of the disappeared, as well as with representatives of the Governments of France, Japan, and Thailand, to exchange views on individual cases and on the phenomenon of enforced disappearances.
The Working Group also examined allegations submitted by non-governmental organizations regarding obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Declaration in their respective countries, and decided to transmit seven general allegations to governments in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. The allegations touched on a range of issues, among which are: impunity of perpetrators of disappearances; lack of effective legislative, judicial, and administrative measures to end enforced disappearances; the failure or lack of codification of enforced disappearance as an autonomous crime; the suspension of fundamental rights, including the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance; and extraordinary rendition.
The Working Group adopted a revised version of its methods of work. The Working Group introduced a section on situations of vulnerability of certain persons, such as women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. In addition, the Working Group refined the terminology regarding the clarification of cases. As from the 84th session, the Working Group will only consider cases clarified when the fate or whereabouts are clearly established. When a case is resolved as a result of a declaration of death with the concurrence of the relatives or other interested parties, the case will be considered “closed” rather than clarified, and will still be taken out of the records of outstanding cases before the Working Group.
During this session, the Working Group finalized and approved its 2007 annual report. It includes chapters on 81 countries, presenting all cases of disappearance currently under consideration, and contains the Working Group’s main concerns and observations.
The Working Group was created by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. The Working Group 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. In view of the Working Group's humanitarian mandate, clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person is clearly established. The Working Group continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved.
The Working Group is made up of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chairman-Rapporteur is Santiago Corcuera, and the other Expert-Members are J. Bayo Adekanye, Darko Gottlicher, Saied Rajaie Khorasani and Stephen J. Toope.
For more information on the WGEID, please refer to the web site: http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/disappear/index.htm