Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (A/HRC/16/48)
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
I. Introduction 1. In 2010, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances commemorated its 30th anniversary. During its thirty years of existence, the Working Group has fulfilled its humanitarian mandate to assist families to ascertain the fate and whereabouts of their disappeared family members. Nevertheless, it deplores the fact that enforced disappearances continue to occur all over the world and that tens of thousands of cases remain unclarified in the records of the Working Group, many going back decades.
2. The Working Group was the first United Nations human rights thematic mechanism to be established with a universal mandate. The original mandate derives from Commission on Human Rights resolution 20 (XXXVI) of 29 February 1980. This resolution followed General Assembly resolution 33/173 of 20 December 1978, in which the Assembly expressed concern at reports from various parts of the world relating to enforced disappearances and requested the Commission on Human Rights to consider the question of missing or disappeared persons. The mandate was most recently extended by Human Rights Council resolution 7/12 of 27 March 2008.
3. The primary task of the Working Group is to assist families in determining the fate or whereabouts of their family members who are reportedly disappeared. In this humanitarian capacity, the Working Group serves as a channel of communication between family members of victims of disappearance and Governments.
4. Following the adoption of General Assembly resolution 47/133 on 18 December 1992 and of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Working Group was entrusted to monitor the progress of States in fulfilling their obligations derived from the Declaration. Human Rights Council resolution 7/12 encouraged the Working Group to provide assistance in the implementation by States of the Declaration.
5. This report reflects communications and cases examined by the Working Group during its three sessions in 2010, covering the period 14 November 2009 to 12 November 2010.
6. A summary of activities during the reporting period is presented in a table for each country, with a detailed text description of the areas of activity. Where there has been no information from the Government or the sources, notwithstanding the annual reminder sent by the Working Group concerning outstanding cases, only the table is provided and a reference is made to the previous report dealing with those cases.
7. For States where the number of newly reported cases is less than 10, the names of the persons appear in that State's section. If the number of newly reported cases is greater than 10, the list of names appears in annex V. For urgent actions, the names of all persons, regardless of the number, appear in the relevant State's section.
8. The total number of cases transmitted by the Working Group to Governments since its inception is 53,337. The number of cases under active consideration that have not yet been clarified, closed or discontinued stands at 42,633 in a total of 83 States. The Working Group has been able to clarify 1,814 cases over the past five years.
9. The Working Group regrets the lack of adequate support given to the mandate, which has led to a backlog of more than 400 cases. The Working Group also notes that many communications are not translated in time, thus delaying their consideration by the Working Group.
10. At the present time, the Working Group's website remains inadequate. The majority of the content is in English only. The Working Group calls on the United Nations to provide adequate resources to make it more accessible.