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Day Of The Disappeared Notes 50,000 Cases - UN

UN Marks International Day Of The Disappeared By Noting 50,000 Cases

On the International Day of the Disappeared today, a United Nations Working Group, which has sent 50,000 cases to 90 Governments, expressed its concern about the under-reporting of the problem and the “implicit amnesties” that lead to impunity for those committing these crimes.

The Geneva-based Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) said, “These figures are only the tip of the iceberg. On a number of occasions the WGEID has expressed concern over the number of cases it has received from certain countries, which seems low when seen against the negative human rights situation of those countries.”

It highlighted problems in Colombia, Algeria and Nepal.

Noting “the generalized phenomenon of ‘under-reporting’," WGEID said that in some countries, such as Colombia, the lack of reporting of disappearances at the national and international levels is largely due to the fear of reprisals by paramilitary armed groups.

The recently adopted law on demobilization (Justicia y Paz) in Colombia and the text to be submitted to a referendum in Algeria next month are worrisome examples of “the implicit amnesties and resulting impunity revealed in some legal instruments that have recently been adopted, or are about to be adopted this year,” it said.

Meanwhile, “the WGEID urges the Nepalese authorities to protect human rights defenders from persecution for their work and to fully implement the recommendations issued following the Working Group's country visit of last December,” it added.

Stressing the situation in Nepal, the UNHCR Representative there, Ian Martin said his office regularly received complaints of disappearances by both the rebel Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (CPN-M) and the national security forces.

“We have had many reports that civil society organizations, as well as journalists, continue to receive threats and are under pressure from both sides of the conflict,” he added.

The WGEID of independent experts was established by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR) in 1980 to help the relatives of disappeared persons find out what happened to them and to act as a communication channel between the families and their Governments.

“On the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared, the WGEID reiterates its solidarity with all those who suffer from enforced disappearance and with human rights defenders working for disappeared persons and their relatives. The WGEID pays tribute to their efforts and to their unquenchable thirst for truth and justice,” it said.

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