UN rights panel examines some 1000 forced disappearances of people worldwide

The United Nations working group on involuntary disappearances of people around the world wrapped up its annual session in Bangkok, Thailand today after reviewing 1,000 cases from 28 countries, as well as the relevant national legislation.The UN Commission on Human Rights Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, established in 1980, said that it was continuing work on 40,000 cases of disappearance from 60 countries.The Group decided to hold its 75th session in Asia because “an increasing number of cases of enforced disappearance have recently been submitted to it from the region,” it said. Under its humanitarian mandate, it establishes a channel of communication between the disappeared person’s family and the allegedly responsible Government. Clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person is established.According to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, adopted by the General Assembly in 1992, enforced disappearances occur when State officials — or persons acting on behalf of, or with the support, consent, or acquiescence of a Government — cause people to lose their liberty, but then refuse to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned, placing them outside legal protections.The Working Group said it discussed laws on amnesty and impunity for acts of enforced disappearance at this session and was conducting a worldwide study on such laws and their implementation.The Group comprises five independent experts. Its Chairman-Rapporteur is Stephen J. Toope, the Vice-Chairman is J. Bayo Adekanye, and the other members are Darko Gottlicher, Saied Rajaie Khorasani and Santiago Corcuera.

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