28 October, 2020

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Civilised World Threatened By Disappearances

By S. V. Kirubaharan

S. V. Kirupaharan

A resolution of the UN Commission on Human Rights of 29 February 1980 established the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances – WGEID. This was followed by the UN General Assembly declaration in 1992, “Protection of all persons from enforced Disappearances”. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is, of course, the body composed of all UN member States.

 

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPED) was adopted by the UNGA on 20 December 2006 and opened for signatories on 6 February 2007. After 32 States had ratified this convention, on 23 December 2010, it entered into force.

As of 14 July 2012, ninety one (91) States are signatories and 34 are parties to this convention. Most of the countries which have the worst records on disappearances have neither signed nor become parties to this convention – Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China, Russian Federation, Iran, Israel and a few other countries. India signed it on 6 February 2007.

The WGEID holds three regular sessions during the year and consists of five independent experts. Current members are from France, South Africa, Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Argentina.

 

The mandate of the WGEID is to assist families to determine the fate of their “disappeared” kith and kin. The Working Group creates communications between the States and the families to deal with cases which have already been brought to the attention of the Working Group.

Like other mandates, the WGEID reminds states of their obligations. For further discussion concerning disappearances, the definitions of “Enforced disappearance” and “Perpetrators” are useful to know – the report A/HRC/19/58/Rev.1 of 1 January 2012 says:

Definition of enforced disappearance : As defined in the preamble of the Declaration, enforced disappearances occur when persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law.

Definition of Perpetrators: – The Working Group operates for purposes of its work on the basis that, in accordance with the definition contained in the Preamble of the Declaration, enforced disappearances are only considered as such when the act in question is perpetrated by State actors or by private individuals or organized groups (e.g. paramilitary groups) acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government. Based on the above, the Working Group does not admit cases when they are attributed to persons or groups not acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, such as terrorist or insurgent movements fighting the Government in its own territory.

The cases in the WGEID are dealt with under two different procedures – the Urgent procedure and the Standard procedure.  The Urgent procedure deals with disappearance cases that happened within the previous 3 months. These are immediately transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the concerned State and the source informed that an urgent action has been sent.

The idea of informing the Source is to encourage them to deal with the concerned government regarding the particular case. Any reply received from the Government regarding the cases transmitted by the Working Group, is communicated to the person who submitted the case.

The Standard procedure includes disappearance cases reported after three months. The WGEID examines those cases in detail during the session and transmits them to the concerned state with a request to carry out an investigation to clarify or find out the fate of the victim/victims. The WGEID waits for the result of the investigation of the concerned government.

Admissibility of the cases depends on the following information: The case can be submitted by family members, friends, a Non-Governmental Organization – NGO or any other reliable source. The cases should be submitted in writing with clear details of the person or organization submitting the case. There should be sufficient information for the WGEID to communicate with the party concerned.

Submitted cases should include : – Full name of the disappeared person; if possible, age, gender, nationality, occupation or profession; date of disappearance or  arrest or abduction, or day, month and year when the disappeared person was last seen. When the disappeared person was last seen in a detention centre, an approximate indication -month or period and year is sufficient for the WGEID.

The place of arrest or abduction should also be included or where the disappeared person was last seen (indication of town or village, at least); It is very important also to include the parties acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, presumed to have carried out the arrest or abduction or to be holding the disappeared person in unacknowledged detention.

Steps taken by the family to determine the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person should also be included. The reason for giving this information is to prove that all domestic remedies have been exhausted, and that there are no available mechanisms in the country to establish the whereabouts of the disappeared person or persons.

Anyone submitting a case or cases with the status of reliable source needs to indicate whether the relatives of the victim/victims have given their consent to submit the case to the WGEID on their behalf.

When submitting a case to the WGEID one can ask for confidentiality. This is to avoid reprisals and to ensure a certain level of protection.

With the consent of the relevant government, the WGEID can visit a country to assess the overall situation of disappearances and then release a report on their visit.

The WGEID submits annual reports on its activities to the Human Rights Council, detailing its communications with governments and others, on disappearance cases received during the year.

However, international pressure may be a key factor in whether a case of disappearance is solved or not, or whether reprisals are targeted against people working on the cases.

 

The Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland:

 

Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances – WGEID

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – OHCHR

Palais Wilson – United Nations

1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Fax +41 22 917 9006 (indicate: “For the attention of: WGEID”).

Cases and replies are reviewed at the session following their receipt, if received at least one month before the session. Reported cases remain on the file of the WGEID until clarified. Certain cases may take several years – many have.

The next (98th) session of the WGEID will meet from 31 October to 9 November 2012.

Disappearances in Sri Lanka highlighted in the UN WGEID reports are given below:

 

Report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or

Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID)

 

A/HRC/19/58/Rev.1- 2 March 2012

Number of outstanding cases at the beginning of the period under review                        5,653

 

Cases transmitted to the Government during the period under review :                 59

Cases sent under the urgent action procedure                                         0

Cases sent under the standard procedure                                               59

 

Cases clarified during the period under review by:

Government                                                                                          0

Non-governmental sources                                                                    0

 

Number of outstanding cases at the end of the year under review                                    5,671

 

Number of cases on which the Government has replied                           0

Multiple replies on some cases                                                              N/A

Number of cases of possible clarification by Government (6-month rule)  0

 

Urgent appeal                                       N/A                   Government response               N/A

General allegation                                  Yes                  Government response               No

Prompt intervention letter                       Yes                  Government response               No

Working Group request for a visit           Yes                  Government response               No

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or

Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID)

 

A/HRC/16/48- 26 January 2011

Number of outstanding cases at the beginning of the period under review                        5,651

 

Cases transmitted to the Government during the period under review :                 4

Cases sent under the urgent action procedure                                         3

Cases sent under the standard procedure                                               1

 

Cases clarified during the period under review by:

Government                                                                                          0

Non-governmental sources                                                                    0

 

Number of outstanding cases at the end of the year under review                                    5,653

 

Number of cases on which the Government has replied                                          32

Multiple replies on some cases                                                                             Yes

Number of cases of possible clarification by Government (6-month rule)              0

 

Urgent appeal                                       N/A                   Government response               N/A

General allegation                                  N/A                   Government response               N/A

Prompt intervention letter                       N/A                   Government response               N/A

Working Group request for a visit           Yes                  Government response               None

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or

Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID)

 

A/HRC/13/31 – 21 December 2009

 

Number of outstanding cases at the beginning of the period under review                        5, 727

 

Cases transmitted to the Government during the period under review :                 100

Cases sent under the urgent action procedure                                         4

Cases sent under the standard procedure                                               96

 

Cases clarified during the period under review by:

Government                                                                                          5

Non-governmental sources                                                                    0

 

Number of outstanding cases at the end of the year under review                                    5,822

 

Number of cases on which the Government has replied                                          32

Multiple replies on some cases                                                                             Yes

Number of cases of possible clarification by Government (6-month rule)              0

 

General allegation                                  N/A                   Government response               N/A

Prompt intervention letter                       N/A                   Government response               N/A

Working Group request for a visit           Yes                  Government response               No

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

Report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or

Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID)

 

(Advanced edited version – A/HRC/10/9 – 6 February 2009)

 

Statistical summary: cases of enforced or involuntary disappearance

reported to the Working Group between 1980 and 2008

 

Countries/entities                                                                 Sri Lanka

Cases transmitted to the Government

Total                 –           Cases                                       12297  

–           Female                                     155      

Outstanding      –           Cases                                       5727

–           Female                                     87        

Clarification by –            Government                              6530    

Non-governmental sources        40

 

Status of person at date of clarification

At liberty                                                                           101  

In detention                                                                         24

Dead                                                                              6445  

 

Discontinued cases                                                                           —

 

* * * * *

 

S. V. Kirupaharan

France

1 August 2012

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Well done.

    Your recent articles have started teaching human rights, giving information to victims, making them to send their own cases to the United Nations.

    You have shown your veterancy in this field.

    We salute you for your courage and contribution in this field.

  • 0
    0

    HOW ABOUT MAKING THE ENTIRE SRI LANKAN PARLIAMENT DISAPPEAR INTO THIN AIR AND ELECT LITTLE CHILDREN TO LOOK AFTER THE COUNTRY. THESE CHILDREN WOULD DEFINITELY DO A BETTER JOB.

  • 0
    0

    Good work Kiruba, you are always practical and realistic. Victims can directly address to UN.

  • 0
    0

    Wonderful.

    Let the UN group have more cases from Sri Lanka.

    Small island not good for division, but can have highest number of disappearance in the WORLD.

    Shamefull government, President and ministers.

    Is this Lord Mahinda chinathanayai?

  • 0
    0

    The fact that Sri Lanka has NOT become a sigatory to the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is not surprising – as ‘disappearances’ have become common and noone takes much notice of them now.
    What price Human Rights?

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