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Enforced disappearance: UN and regional human rights experts call for justice for victims without delay

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances (30 August 2023)

29 August 2023

GENEVA (29 August 2023) –UN* and regional** human rights experts urged all States to provide effective access to justice for victims of enforced disappearance, that include any individual who has suffered harm as the direct result of an enforced disappearance.

“Ensuring the victims’ right to justice requires taking all necessary steps to uncover the truth,” the experts said in a statement ahead of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

They warned that ensuring adequate access to justice and proper accountability for perpetrators at all levels of the chain of command is critical to convey a strong message that enforced disappearance – a crime under international human rights law – is not permitted or tolerated.

“In their daily struggle for justice, victims often face threats, intimidation, reprisals and stigmatisation. This must end, and victims must have access to free legal aid to ensure that their financial situation does not prevent them from seeking justice”, the experts said. 

In the context of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, the Chairperson of the Working Group on Death Penalty, Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Representatives of Indonesia and Malaysia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights jointly called on all States to make pledges to promote justice for all victims of enforced disappearances without delay, and to ratify international and regional instruments on enforced disappearances.

“Access to justice must not be merely theoretical, but guaranteed in practice through concrete measures that promote and fully value the genuine and meaningful participation of victims and their representatives throughout the process,” the experts said.

ENDS

*UN experts

Ms. Aua Baldé (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Gabriella Citroni (Vice-Chair); Ms. Grażyna Baranowska (Poland), Ms. Ana-Lorena Delgadillo Pérez (México) and Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit (Thailand)  Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Mr. Juan Pablo Albán Alencastro (Rapporteur), Mr. Mohammed Ayat (Vice President), Mr. Matar Diop, Mr. Olivier de Frouville, Ms. Suela Janina, Mr. Fidelis Kanyongolo, Ms. Milica Kolakovic-Bojovic (Vice President), Ms. Barbara Lochbihler (Vice President), Mr. Horacio Ravenna, and Ms. Carmen Rosa Villa Quintana (Chair), of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances

**Regional Human Rights Experts

Hon. Idrissa Sow (Chairperson), Working Group on Death Penalty, Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Ms. Yuyun Wahyuningrum, Representative of Indonesia, and Professor Dato' Dr Aishah Bidin FASc, Representative of Malaysia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances is one of the United Nations Treaty Bodies. It gathers 10 independent experts in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Convention for the Protection of all Persons against enforced disappearances by States parties. These experts are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights, nominated by States parties to the Convention. They serve in their personal capacity and are independent and impartial. To date, the Convention has been ratified by 72 member States.

The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

** Other human rights bodies:

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

IACHR is a principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS) deriving its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)

The African Charter established the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Commission was inaugurated on 2 November 1987 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Commission’s Secretariat has subsequently been located in Banjul, The Gambia. In addition to performing any other tasks, which may be entrusted to it by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the Commission is officially charged with three major functions: the protection of human and peoples' rights; the promotion of human and peoples' rights; the interpretation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

AICHR was inaugurated by the ASEAN leaders on 23 October 2009, and was enhanced with the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) in November 2012. The AICHR is designed as an overarching institution with overall responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN. The AICHR members are called Representatives, who are nominated by their respective Governments. Decision-making of the AICHR is based on consultation and consensus.

For more information and media requests, please contact

Mr. Ugo Cedrangolo (+41 (0)22 917 9286 / [email protected]) or write to [email protected]; Ms. Albane Prophette-Pallasco (+41 (0)229179719/ [email protected]) or write to [email protected]  

For media enquiries regarding the Treaty Bodies, please contact

Vivian Kwok at [email protected]

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact

Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) or Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected]).  

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