25 June 2010 A United Nations human rights working group today urged Member States to back a global pact aimed at protecting people from enforced disappearances that is just two ratifications shy of the number needed to bring it into force.
The International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 2006, has been signed by 83 countries and ratified by 18 so far.
The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance wrapped up its latest session today, which took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by calling on “all other States to ratify the convention and accept the State and individual complaint process under the convention.”
The treaty defines an enforced disappearance as the arrest, detention, abduction or other form of deprivation of liberty by the State followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or the concealment of the whereabouts of the disappeared person.
The working group also called on the UN to proclaim 30 August as the International Day of the Disappeared.
During its current session, which began on Tuesday, the working group examined 10 cases reported under its urgent action procedure, as well as 170 newly submitted cases of enforced disappearances and information on previously accepted cases.
“Enforced disappearances remain a global problem,” said Jeremy Sarkin, the group’s Chairman and Rapporteur. “Cases continue to be reported from all corners of the world. The fact that so many cases are reported under our urgent action procedure, that allows cases to be dealt with swiftly where they have occurred within 90 days of being reported, indicates that more needs to be done by all stakeholders to prevent and eradicate the practice.”
Since its creation in 1980, the working group – which aims to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives – has dealt with more than 50,000 cases in 80 countries. By opening channels of communication between the families and governments concerned, it seeks to ensure that individual cases are investigated and to clarify the whereabouts of persons who having disappeared
The working group continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. Its five expert members serve in their individual capacities, and not as representatives of their governments.
This week the experts reviewed cases dealing with Bahrain, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Colombia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, India, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yemen.
The current members of the working group are: Mr. Sarkin, of South Africa; Santiago Corcuera, of Mexico; Jasminka Dzumhur, of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Olivier de Frouville, of France; and Osman El-Hajjé, of Lebanon.
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