Committee on Enforced Disappearances Closes Twenty-Fifth Session After Adopting Concluding Observations on Reports of Mauritania, Mexico, Netherlands and Nigeria
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances this afternoon closed its twenty-fifth session after adopting its concluding observations on the periodic reports of Mauritania and Nigeria, and on reports containing additional information from Mexico and the Netherlands.
Juan Pablo Albán Alencastro, Committee Rapporteur, recalled that during the opening of the session, the Committee paid tribute to the victims of enforced disappearance; heard the testimony of Asma Abdulraheem Mohamed Othmane, the sister of a person who had disappeared in Sudan; and heard the solemn declaration of the new Committee Expert, Fidelis Kanyongolo of Malawi.
The Committee elected by consensus the members of its Bureau for the 2023 to 2025 term: Olivier de Frouville (France) as Chair; Milika Kolakovic-Bojovic (Serbia), Horacio Ravenna (Argentina), and Matar Diop (Senegal) as Vice-Chairs; and Juan Pablo Albán Alencastro (Ecuador) as Rapporteur.
In addition to adopting concluding observations on the reports of Mauritania, Mexico, the Netherlands and Nigeria, the Committee also adopted lists of issues in the absence of a report for the Central African Republic, as well as in relation to the reports of Samoa and Sri Lanka, in preparation for future reviews.
The Committee held productive meetings with States parties and non-parties to the Convention, members of the United Nations system, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, civil society organizations and victims. It also held discussions on its methods of work and rules of procedure, its procedures under article 29 of the Convention, and its report on the urgent actions’ mechanism. It also approved the tentative agenda for its twenty-sixth session.
In addition, the Committee adopted and launched its first general comment on enforced disappearances in the context of migration, continued working on its draft declaration on “short-term” enforced disappearances with the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, and celebrated together with other involved human rights bodies the first anniversary of the Joint statement on illegal inter-country adoptions.
Olivier de Frouville, Committee Chairperson, announced the publication of the Practical Guide, “Becoming a Party to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”. The Guide aimed to assist States in becoming parties to the Convention and promoted its universal ratification. It provided a toolkit to encourage and support States to pledge their commitment to the prevention and eradication of enforced disappearances and to the fight against impunity for this heinous crime. This publication complemented the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ manual, “Reporting under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”, which included a training guide and related training modules. Translations of the Guide into Spanish and French would soon be prepared.
Mr. de Frouville also announced that the book “Recetario para la Memoria, Guanajuato (Recipe Book for Memory, Guanajuato)”, a gastronomic, photographic and social project that gave a face to the victims of enforced disappearances and remembered them through their favourite recipes, had been published. The Committee hoped to hold an exhibition of its photographs at the United Nations.
Zahara Gómez Lucini, a photographer who contributed to the book, said it introduced dishes that victims’ family members had not cooked for several years; recipes that were favoured by those who had disappeared. More than 70 families had taken part in interviews that formed the basis of the book. The goals of the recipe book were to embrace the families of victims and relay information on the issue of enforced disappearance to a broad range of people. An exhibition of the photographs in the book and group cooking events had been held in Mexico, the United States and other countries. An English translation of the book had been prepared and would soon be published.
Alejandra Díaz, one of the authors of the book, said she was trying to locate her brother, who had disappeared in June 2020. His case was the subject of an urgent action with the Committee, and she expressed hope that through the urgent action, he would be found. Preparing the recipe book made the people involved stronger as they searched for truth, justice and reparation. The “truth” presented by the authorities and media was not the truth for victims’ families. Ms. Diaz expressed hope that the book would reach a wide audience and convey the love of the contributing families, who were still searching for their loved ones.
Mr. de Frouville said that the Committee members would keep the book close to their kitchens and hearts.
The twenty-fifth session, he said, had been an exceptionally long and busy session. He expressed thanks to all those who had contributed to the session, including Committee Experts, members of the Secretariat and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who had assisted the Committee in addressing urgent actions. The Committee had so far undertaken 1,600 urgent actions, which had led to the discovery of 473 persons, including 443 who were found alive. He also thanked the States parties and civil society organizations that had met with the Committee during the session. The Committee called on non-governmental organizations to continue to reach out to the Committee. Their experiences and testimonies were fundamental to the work of the Committee.
All documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage, where documents relating to the Committee’s reviews of the reports of Mauritania, Mexico, the Netherlands and Nigeria will soon be available. Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here.
The Committee’s twenty-sixth session is scheduled to be held from 19 February to 2 March 2024. During the session, the Committee is scheduled to consider the periodic reports of Cambodia and Gambia; and additional information submitted by Burkina Faso and Honduras.
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