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Statement of the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) for the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances

November 2011

[English] [français]

10 November 2011

At the conclusion of the three-day conference of the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) in Geneva, the Coalition underscores the crucial role the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has played in the global campaign to end enforced disappearances.

It is lamentable that despite the ICAED’s active and steadfast lobby both in the national and international levels for the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, a significant number of its member-organizations come from countries that have not yet signed much less ratified the Convention.

In this light, the WGEID remains the principal venue where families of the disappeared and organizations dealing with the subject of enforced disappearance can make their voices heard, more particularly concerning individual petitions and general allegations. Accordingly, the ICAED calls on the WGEID to continue discharging its functions even as it strongly urges the United Nations to provide the WGEID with the necessary staffing and resources.

The ICAED encourages the WGEID to closely cooperate with the newly established Committee on Enforced Disappearances and share its 30-year experience and expertise with this new monitoring body for it to adopt best practices that can effectively protect human rights.

The ICAED expresses its appreciation for the recent country visit made by the WGEID to the Democratic Republic of Congo, which now brings the Working Group back to the African continent. Concomitantly, the ICAED stresses that attention to the African continent is most needed, as the rising number of enforced disappearances throughout the continent has become alarming. Under-reporting remains a problem amidst harassments, threats and attacks directed against associations of relatives of the disappeared. Hence, the ongoing monitoring by the WGEID is imperative.

The ICAED encourages the WGEID to continue conducting country-visits which should be announced as promptly as possible, in order to enable the widest possible participation of civil society organizations (CSOs). Moreover, the ICAED stresses the fundamental importance of a regular system of follow through on the conclusions and recommendations issued at the end of each mission.

The ICAED calls on the WGEID to sustain its accessibility to the relatives of the disappeared from all over the world, ensure flexibility of its procedures and take into account the difficulties experienced in the field.

In the light of the overriding importance of the country missions, the ICAED proposes that the WGEID consider modifying formal country visits and working missions. The visit of experts to different countries, even if not in the framework of official country missions, would enable them to formulate meaningful recommendations to governments and pursue fruitful dialogues with local CSOs.

The ICAED calls on the WGEID to continue close monitoring of the replies received from governments and to ensure that families of the disappeared, representatives of civil society, and sources of information have the opportunity to express their views on these replies.

The ICAED draws the attention of the WGEID to the specific phenomenon of the enforced disappearance of children, which has its own peculiarities and proposes that the Working Group elaborates on this in a general comment, identifying existing best practices and the responsibilities of governments.

The ICAED congratulates the WGEID for its recent study on the best practices concerning the crime of enforced disappearance in domestic criminal legislation. In this light, the ICAED calls on the WGEID to continue monitoring the enactment of domestic laws that criminalize enforced disappearance as an autonomous offence, in order to ensure compliance with international standards. In the event of non-observance of such norms, it behooves the WGEID to issue concrete recommendations to concerned governments.

The ICAED reiterates its gratitude for the Working Group’s unwavering support to the global struggle to eradicate enforced disappearance even as the Coalition pledges its support to the Working Group in carrying out its mandate.

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