28 March 2022
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances this morning opened its twenty-second session, during which it will examine the initial reports of Greece and Niger on their implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, as well as its periodic report on urgent actions, the reports on follow-up to concluding observations of Iraq and Peru, and a report on the Committee’s visit to Mexico.
Christian Salazar Volkmann, Director, Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Representative of the Secretary-General, said that it was important for the world to eradicate and prevent enforced disappearances, an unacceptable and unbearable crime that needed to stop immediately. The work and commitment of the Committee was of utmost importance for victims. Disappeared persons had been located in Cambodia, Colombia, Iraq, and Mexico after the activation of the Committee’s urgent action procedure. Thanks to collaboration with the Committee, desk officers and colleagues in field presences of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had developed various projects to promote the ratification of the Convention by States who were not yet party to it. Such practices needed to be encouraged and multiplied. Further, field presences had organised effective training sessions on the content and procedures of the Convention that Committee Experts had participated in. In addition, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had supported a Committee visit last year to Mexico, the report of which would be presented at the present session. It was important that the rules and standards established by the Committee were implemented at the local level.
Carmen Rosa Villa Quintana, Committee Chairperson, said the session was a key opportunity to continue the Committee’s work on its projects on enforced disappearance in the context of migration, enforced disappearances and non-State actors, and enforced disappearances in the context of illegal international adoptions. In-person sessions were the time when the Committee could adopt decisions and make concrete progress on its objectives. The Committee was doing its utmost to fulfil its duties, and the Secretariat was working tirelessly in support. However, the Committee needed more resources, as the backlog of reports was enough to take up the Committee’s time until 2032. In particular, the Committee expressed concern regarding its limitations in effectively following up on urgent actions. In 2021, the Committee had recorded 459 urgent actions. Each person affected by those events had the right to specific and personalised attention. However, with 1487 urgent actions registered to date, the Committee and the Petitions Unit of the Secretariat could not always provide it. Enforced disappearances were a scourge on the world, and States needed to demonstrate their commitment by ratifying the Convention, and by providing the Committee with the human and financial resources it needed to be able to fulfil its functions.
Strengthening the cooperation and coordination of the Committee’s activities with the field presences of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other United Nations agencies was important. That cooperation allowed the Committee to support States to implement their treaty obligations, and encouraged States to support victims in the search for their loved ones. The Committee was pleased to see the commitment of Slovenia, Denmark, and Croatia in recently ratifying the Convention, and Luxembourg for completing the domestic ratification process last Friday. The Committee aimed for all people to understand what enforced disappearances were, and toward that goal had developed a handbook and training package to help increase awareness about the issue and build capacities of officials working to prevent it. Regarding the conflict in Ukraine, the Russian Federation must comply with international law and end the conflict immediately and unconditionally. The Chair paid tribute to the victims of enforced disappearance, and called for a minute of silence for all victims of the conflict in Ukraine. The Committee’s visit to Mexico in November 2021 had been the Committee’s first such visit since the entry into force of the Convention, and the Committee thanked all the institutions of the State, groups of victims, and civil society organizations for their cooperation during the visit. The Committee shared the pain felt by the victims of enforced disappearances, and it was the Committee’s task to communicate that pain with the world.
During the meeting, the Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work for the session.
All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found at the session’s webpage. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings is available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Monday, 28 March, to consider the initial report of Greece (CED/C/GRC/1).