In the early years of the 21st Century
Amnesty International Report, 7 November 2014
[accessed 6 March 2015]
An enforced disappearance takes place when a person is arrested, detained or abducted by the state or agents acting for the state, who then deny that the person is being held or conceal their whereabouts, placing them outside the protection of the law.
Very often, people who have disappeared are never released and their fate remains unknown. Their families and friends may never find out what has happened to them.
But the person has not just vanished. Someone, somewhere, knows what has happened to them. Someone is responsible. Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law but all too often the perpetrators are never bought to justice.
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
[accessed 5 March 2014]
MANDATE - The Working Group's basic mandate is to assist the relatives of disappeared persons to ascertain the fate and whereabouts of their disappeared family members. For this purpose the Group receives and examines reports of disappearances submitted by relatives of disappeared persons or human rights organizations acting on their behalf. After determining whether those reports comply with a number of criteria, the Working Group transmits individual cases to the Governments concerned, requesting them to carry out investigations and to inform the Working Group of the results.
With the adoption by the General Assembly of the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances, starting as at 1992 and in addition to its core mandate, the Working Group was also entrusted with monitoring the progress of States in fulfilling their obligations deriving from the Declaration and to provide to Governments assistance in its implementation. The Working Group draws the attention of Governments and non-governmental organizations to different aspects of the Declaration and recommends ways of overcoming obstacles to the realization of its provisions. In this capacity, the Working Group has a preventive role, by assisting States in overcoming obstacles to the realization of the Declaration. This is done both while carrying out country visits and by providing advisory services, when requested.