13 November 2013
GENEVA (13 November 2013) – The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances* will undertake a one-year comprehensive study on the causes and effects of enforced disappearances on the economic, social and cultural rights of the victims, families and human rights defenders, to provide more effective tools to prevent and eradicate this heinous crime. The report will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2014.
The group of experts noted that those whose economic, social and cultural rights are not duly protected are in a more vulnerable situation to become victims of enforced disappearances. “The protection of such rights is key in the prevention and eradication of enforced disappearances,” they stressed.
“We intend to study not only the effect of enforced disappearances on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, but also analyze the situation of human rights defenders and others who often become victims of enforced disappearances as a consequence of their work on those rights,” the expert group said.
The year-long study will also assess how the effective realization of the right to truth, justice and reparation of the victims can be affected by the reduced enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.
The announcement was made at the end of the Working Group’s 101st session (4-13 November 2013) in Geneva, where an expert consultation on enforced disappearances and economic, social and cultural rights was held with participants from different regions of the world.
In relation to its cases, the Working Group noted: “We are especially concerned about a number of new cases recently reported to us. We urge the concerned Governments to swiftly and thoroughly investigate these cases in order to determine the fate and whereabouts of the victims”.
The Working Group met with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. “We are extremely concerned at the high number of enforced disappearances reported to occur in Syria and at the information that cases have risen exponentially since the conflict began,” the experts observed.
The expert body also met with the Secretariat of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “We will continue to follow this situation closely”, the experts noted.
The experts held meetings with representatives of Governments to exchange views on individual cases and on the issue of enforced disappearance in general. They also met with family members of disappeared persons and non-governmental organizations. “The suffering of the victims is prolonged with the lack of progress on the investigation and search for their loved ones,” the human rights experts said. “Their plight is exacerbated as they and those working on their behalf are often victims of intimidation and reprisals, thus becoming more vulnerable in their quest for truth and justice.”
The 102nd Session of the Working Group is scheduled for 3 to 7 February 2014, in Geneva.
(*) The Working Group is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina) and the Vice-Chair is Mr. Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon); other members are Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France), Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa).
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. In view of the Working Group's humanitarian mandate, clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person are clearly established. The Working Group continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. It also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. For more information, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx
How to submit cases to the Working Group?: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/disappear/docs/Communication_form_E.doc
Read the Working Group’s 2012 report to the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A.HRC.22.45_English.pdf
Read the Working Group’s post-sessional documents for 2013: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/Annual.aspx
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