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UN rights group urges General Assembly to adopt treaty against enforced disappearances

UN rights group urges General Assembly to adopt treaty against enforced disappearances

A United Nations human rights group today called on the 192-member General Assembly to adopt immediately a new treaty to protect people against enforced disappearances by making it a Government obligation to prevent and punish the crime.

The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) said the draft International Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances aims to fill the gap in international legislation for the prevention of disappearances.

“The Working Group fully endorses the Convention and the subsequent strengthening of international law in this area when the Convention comes into force,” WGEID said in a statement. “As the Secretary-General [Kofi Annan] said at the opening day of the first session of the Council on Human Rights in June, approving the Convention will ‘bring hope to large groups of people who have lived in a dark shadow of fear.’”

The Council adopted the Convention at its first session on 29 June and it is now up to the General Assembly to decide whether the Convention will take its place among the other instruments of international human rights law. “The WGEID thus urges its immediate adoption and speedy national ratification,” the statement added.

The Working Group was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist the relatives of disappeared persons in ascertaining their fate and whereabouts and to act as a channel for communication between the families and governments concerned.

The Working Group is composed of five independent experts: Santiago Corcuera (Chairperson-Rapporteur), J. ‘Bayo Adekanye, Darko Göttlicher, Saied Rajaie Khorasani, and Stephen J. Toope.