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Enforced Disappearances: UN experts on visit to Western Balkans

GENEVA (13 June 2013) – The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will visit Croatia (15-18 June), Serbia and Kosovo* (19 to 23 and 24 to 26 June), and Montenegro (27 to 30 June 2014).
During the official visits, the UN experts will examine the measures taken for the prevention and eradication of enforced disappearances, and analyse in particular issues related to truth, justice, reparation and memory for victims.

The Working Group will meet with official authorities, relatives of disappeared persons, representatives of civil society organizations, and other stakeholders in the region. The experts will also visit memorial and exhumation sites.

The visits will be conducted by three members of the Working Group, Mr. Ariel Dulitzky, Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur,and Mr. Osman el-Hajjé, who will be accompanied by staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Working Group will hold a press conference at the end of each visit: 18 June in Zagreb; 23 June in Belgrade, 26 June in Pristina and 30 June in Podgorica. More details on the press conferences will follow.

The Working Group will report on the visits to the UN Human Rights Council in 2015.

*Reference to Kosovo should be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1244.

The Working Group is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina) and the Vice-Chair is Mr. Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon). The other members are Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Ms. Houria Es Slami (Morocco) and Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France).

The Working Group was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed outside the protection of the law. In view of the Working Group's humanitarian mandate, clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person are clearly established. The Working Group continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. It also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. For more information, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx

How to submit cases to the Working Group?: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/disappear/docs/Communication_form_E.doc

Read the Working Group’s post-sessional documents: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/Annual.aspx

For more information and media requests:
Before the mission: write to wgeid@ohchr.org
During the mission: Ugo Cedrangolo (+41 79 752 0483 / ucedrangolo@ohchr.org