Committee on Enforced Disappearances Meets with States
Opening the meetings, Carmen Rosa Villa Quintana, Committee Chairperson, stressed the importance of increasing ratification of the Convention. While celebrating that 83 people had been found alive following petitions for urgent action from the Committee, that still left over 1,000 urgent cases open.
States speaking in the meeting took the opportunity to ask Committee members directly for clarification on some of its procedures, and also looked ahead to planned visits of the Committee, the sanitary situation permitting. States also updated the Committee on initiatives they were taking related to enforced disappearances, with Argentina noting that together with France, it would launch a campaign to urge States who were not parties to join the Convention.
The Committee also met with civil society organizations in private.
All documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Friday, 24 September to close its twenty-first session.
CARMEN ROSA VILLA QUINTANA, Committee Chair, opened the meeting by noting that last December, the Committee had celebrated the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Its first Chair had emphasized the importance of universal ratification of the Convention. Throughout those ten years, the Committee had worked to implement the Convention, including through reviewing 38 initial reports presented by States parties and five follow-up reports. By September 2021, the Committee had registered 1410 petitions for urgent actions. The Committee celebrated the fact that to date, 107 disappeared persons had been found, of those 83 people had been found alive. But there were still 1207 urgent cases open.
Through its mechanisms, the Committee had produced a wide-ranging jurisprudence which had been gathered in a publication celebrating the Committee’s tenth anniversary. To eradicate and prevent enforced disappearance, effort was required from all. More States needed to ratify the Convention. A campaign for the universalisation of the Convention aimed to achieve one hundred ratifications by 2025. She welcomed the recent ratification by Sudan, and the announcements by the Republic of Korea and of Luxembourg that they were about to ratify. The Committee stood ready to support its State parties, and victims, in the implementation of the Convention, but cooperation was needed from States to achieve that. Also, the Secretariat of the Committee needed to be strengthened in order to cope with the workload.
Statements by States
Mexico noted that its Government had accepted the competence of the Committee to examine individual communications for those under its jurisdiction, as well as accepting the first visit of the Committee to a State party. A date would be set soon, depending on the COVID-19 epidemiological situation. Mexico had an enormous number of urgent actions, and asked for more clarity on how the Committee determined whether a case was closed.
Argentina said that last May 2021, within the framework of the 10-year entry into force of the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Argentina and France had launched the third Campaign for the Universalisation of the Convention to urge States to adhere to or ratify the Convention. Argentina had also launched the Campaign for the Right to Identity, which sought to find people whose identities were stolen as girls and boys during the last civic-military dictatorship in Argentina, people who under the terms of the Convention were victims of enforced disappearance.
Iraq said there were a number of allegations of enforced disappearance in the country, and Iraq needed support from the Committee to put an end to that phenomenon. The Committee had sent Iraq requests for “urgent action” requesting investigations into victims of enforced disappearances. But Iraq was not sure whether they were Iraqi or not, and could not identify their whereabouts. Iraq pointed out that allegations needed to be verified to be credible, as many of the disappeared people had committed crimes.
Morocco noted that the Committee had been the first of the United Nations treaty bodies to hold online dialogues with States parties. Morocco was committed to working constructively with the Committee in accomplishing its mandate. In this light, Morocco congratulated Sudan on ratifying the Convention.
Mauritania was committed to upholding its Treaty obligations pursuant to human rights, and to implementing the provisions of international legal instruments. Mauritania was fully willing to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Committee, and would work to ensure the respect, promotion and protection of human rights in general, and the protection of persons from enforced disappearance in particular.
Armenia noted that enforced disappearance often led to a chain of aggravated violations of human rights, with victims of enforced disappearances deprived of their access to legal protection. Wars and armed conflicts sharply increased the risk of enforced disappearance. Armenia emphasized the importance of universalization of the Convention.
Ethiopia was striving to realize human rights instruments to which the country was a party. Although it was not among the States parties to the Convention, enforced disappearance was criminalised in the domestic legislation of Ethiopia. Ethiopia reaffirmed its commitment to working with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
Statements by Committee Members
MOHAMMED AYAT, Committee Vice Chair, recalled the importance of the Convention to eradicate and prevent enforced disappearances. To discharge its task, the Committee needed support from States. The amount of work the Committee had to deal with was on the increase, and needed more meeting time in order to get through its work. The pace of ratification was still very slow, he said, thanking States which had undertaken efforts to push ratification efforts forward.
OLIVIER DE FROUVILLE, Committee Member, welcomed the presence of States which had not yet ratified the Convention, and urged them to join the “club” of ratifications. All Member States of the United Nations needed to join the Convention for it to be effective on all fronts in combating enforced disappearances.
CARMEN ROSA VILLA QUINTANA, Committee Chair, noted that every year, the Committee submitted a report on urgent actions, where more information about cases could be found. Assistance and protection needed to be provided to victims of enforced disappearances. The Committee’s visit to Mexico would be a major achievement which it was hoped would be carried out soon. Thanking Iraq for its openness, she expressed hope that a visit to Iraq could be organized. Underscoring the importance of the relationship with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, she noted that it enabled the two mechanisms to generate dynamics.