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Reporting a disappearance to the Working Group

Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

Cases of disappearance can be submitted to the WGEID by relatives of disappeared themselves, or by organizations acting on their behalf (with prior consent of the relatives). Whoever refers the case to the Group should be able to maintain communication with it and respond promptly to requests for further information or clarification.

WGEID examination and transmission of individual cases

Under its urgent procedure, the WGEID transmits any case that occurred in the three months preceding receipt of the report directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country concerned (within 1 or 2 days), through the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva.

For cases that happened more than three months ago (standard cases), the Group may authorize transmission to the government concerned, requesting investigations to be carried out and the results to be passed on.

The WGEID accepts cases from any country in the world. Further, it is not necessary to exhaust domestic remedies before submitting a case to the Group. Finally, international pressure may be a key factor in the solution of a case of disappearance or reprisal against people working on it.

Confidentiality and protection from reprisals

Sources are always kept confidential and names are not made public to ensure they are protected. In case of reprisals, a prompt intervention letter can be sent by the WGEID to the concerned Government. However, it is important that sources are aware that the WGEID is not able to provide physical protection measures.

The role of NGOs

Civil society organizations play a crucial role in the good functioning of the Working Group mandate. They can raise awareness about the Working Group and its various procedures. NGOs often assist relatives of disappeared persons in submitting cases to the WGEID and following up with subsequent updates. They can also bring to the attention of the Working Group general allegations concerning violations of the provisions of the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. NGOs are also key interlocutors during country visits, as they coordinate  meetings between the WGEID and relatives.

Reporting a disappearance to the WGEID

Information sent to the WGEID should be submitted in writing (preferably by email or post) using the form below. Communications can be written in English, Spanish or French.

Form to submit a communication on a victim of an enforced disappearance:
English | Français | Español (Word)

Please note that when submitting information concerning a case of enforced disappearance the following information must always be indicated:

  1. full name of the victim;
  2. day, month and year of disappearance;
  3. place of disappearance;
  4. State or State-supported forces considered responsible;
  5. information about any search which has been made, and
  6. identity of the person submitting the communication.

Email: [email protected]
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (please indicate: “For the attention of: WGEID”).
Mail: Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Palais des Nations, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Most cases and replies are reviewed at the session following their receipt, if received in sufficient time before the session (at least one month before).

A case remains under examination of the WGEID until it is clarified (this may be for several years).

Cases tantamount to enforced disappearance attributed to non-State actors 

For a number of years, the Working Group has been receiving information about increasing instances of abductions carried out by non-State actors, which may be tantamount to acts of enforced disappearances. In light of its humanitarian mandate and the fact that the victims of these acts do not have any remedy to address their plight, since 2019 the Working Group also documents cases tantamount to enforced or involuntary disappearances allegedly perpetrated by non-State actors that exercise effective control and/or government-like functions over a territory.

In implementing this practice, the Working Group underscores that the cases transmitted to non-State actors do not in any way imply the expression of any opinion concerning the legal status of any territory, city or area, or of its authorities.