UN: 'Disappearances' Meeting a Vital Step Forward

Amnesty International is calling for the speedy adoption of a treaty giving strong protection against enforced disappearance.

Amnesty International said:

'An effective treaty would be a significant step to ending disappearances around the world.'

As currently discussed, the draft treaty would include measures for preventing enforced disappearance, bringing perpetrators to justice and affording reparation to victims. Also under discussion is the creation of an urgent international humanitarian procedure for locating the 'disappeared.'

According to the UN, 41,636 people remain 'disappeared' around the world, but the true figure is certainly much higher, with new cases recorded in dozens of countries each year.* In most cases, the victims were arrested or abducted by state agents, often tortured or killed, but governments deny holding them.

In countries like Nepal there is a clear need for such a treaty. For example in 2002 Nepal recorded the highest number of 'disappearances' of any country in the world, and there has been a huge upsurge in new 'disappearance' cases since a cease fire in the country collapsed in August 2003. In the 50 days from 27 August 2003 alone, Amnesty International documented 30 'disappearance' cases, about four per week.

The working group meeting in Geneva was created in 2001 by the UN Commission of Human Rights and entrusted with preparing a 'draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance', for eventual adoption by the UN General Assembly.

The working group made good progress at its first formal meeting in January 2003 and at an informal session in September 2003.

* The figure is taken from the UN expert Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

Relevant information:

  • Amnesty International feature on the day of the 'disappeared'
  • UN Fact Sheet on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances /li>

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