Mr. Chairperson, Esteemed Members of the Committee, ladies and gentlemen – good afternoon.
The International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED) consists of 40 member-organizations from Africa, the Eurasian Region (Euro-Mediterranean Region, Caucasus and Belarus), Latin America and Asia and the United States. The ICAED includes both international non-governmental human rights organizations and national and regional associations of families of the disappeared which together are united to combat the crime of enforced disappearance and promote truth, justice, reparation, and remembrance for all desaparecidos.
ICAED Recommendations to the Committee on Enforced Disappearances
The ICAED strongly welcomes this opportunity to meet the distinguished members of the Committee on Enforced Disappearance (the Committee) on the historic occasion of its inaugural session. The existence of this new treaty body is a source of hope for thousands of relatives of the disappeared people throughout the world. The ICAED considers it essential that the Committee is guaranteed the necessary funding and staffing to carry out its functions in the most effective manner.
The ICAED calls on the Committee to ensure that its rules of procedure and methods of work are drafted in such a way as to ensure that the Committee can effectively carry out its mandate and functions and are accessible to civil society. In this regard, the ICAED urges the Committee to open a participative process in the coming months, in which representatives of civil society are invited to express their views and deliver proposals for the consolidated version of the rules of procedure of the Committee.
The ICAED stresses the crucial importance that will be played by the Committee with regard to the Article 30 urgent intervention procedure. It is essential that the Committee enables the functioning of this procedure as soon as possible, in a manner that ensures that it is both accessible to those representing the disappeared and appropriately coordinated with existing special procedures and other international monitoring bodies.
The ICAED encourages the Committee to establish close cooperation with the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, in order to enrich its own work in the light of some 30 years of experience of this Working Group by, for examples, coordinating the schedule and venue of sessions of the Committee with the Working Group and establishing a system of communication between the two bodies.
The ICAED also underscores the crucial importance of country visits that may be undertaken by the Committee. Wherever possible, planned visits should be announced as promptly as possible in order to enable the widest possible participation of civil society. The ICAED calls the attention of the Committee to the grave situations of ongoing and continuing cases of enforced disappearance in the territory of the following States Parties to the Convention: Honduras, Iraq, Mexico, Nigeria, and Tunisia, and urges the Committee to consider country visits among the possible responses of the Committee. In addition, the ICAED stresses the fundamental importance of ensuring a regular system of follow-up on the conclusions and recommendations issued at the end of its missions.
The ICAED urges the Committee to promote the effective implementation of the Convention in the domestic laws of States Parties and urges the Committee to develop guidelines and tools to assist States Parties in this regard. The recently published ICAED member Amnesty International Checklist for Effective Implementation of the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is a comprehensive guide for States Parties to implement domestic legislation fully in line with the Convention and other international law standards and may serve as a useful tool to promote ratification and implementation.
The ICAED calls the attention of the Committee to the importance of adopting interpretations of the Convention’s provision that affirm the treaty’s central purpose of ending the practice of enforced disappearance, as well as clarifying the numerous and complex obligations for States Parties that arise from the Convention. For instance, the Committee will be called upon to interpret Article 20 which provides for possible restriction of States Parties’ obligation to provide information about deprivation of liberty when a set of narrowly defined circumstances are met. In order to ensure that this provision is not abused, it is critical that the Committee provides an interpretation of this provision in the light of the spirit and purpose of the Convention. Similarly, the interpretation of the definition of a victim pursuant to Article 24 of the Convention in a comprehensive manner in line with international law standards is an important task of the Committee.
Finally, in the course of its work, the ICAED urges the Committee to pay particular attention to the enforced disappearance of children, including during State Party examinations and country visits.