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Resolution 1995

Question of enforced disappearances

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1995/38

The Commission on Human Rights,

Bearing in mind General Assembly resolution 33/173 of 20 December 1978, in which the Assembly requested the Commission on Human Rights to consider the question of disappeared persons with a view to making appropriate recommendations, and all other United Nations resolutions concerning missing or disappeared persons,

Recalling its resolution 20 (XXXVI) of 29 February 1980, in which it decided to establish a working group consisting of five of its members, to serve as experts in their individual capacity, to examine questions relevant to enforced or involuntary disappearances, and its resolutions 1991/41 of 5 March 1991, 1992/30 of 28 February 1992, 1993/35 of 5 March 1993 and 1994/39 of 5 March 1994,

Recalling also General Assembly resolution 47/133 of 18 December 1992, by which the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,

Emphasizing that, in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (A/CONF.157/23), the World Conference on Human Rights welcomed the adoption of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and called upon all States to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent, terminate and punish acts of enforced disappearance,

Noting that the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances considers the adoption of the latter Declaration to be the most encouraging development since its establishment in respect of efforts to combat enforced disappearances, especially in so far as it recognizes that the systematic practice of such acts "is of the nature of a crime against humanity",

Expressing concern in this connection that, according to the Working Group, the practice of a number of States can run counter to the Declaration,

Convinced of the need to continue implementing the provisions of General Assembly resolution 33/173 and of the other United Nations resolutions on the question of disappeared persons, with a view to finding solutions for cases of disappearance and eliminating enforced disappearances, duly taking into account the provisions of the Declaration,

Taking into account General Assembly resolution 49/181 of 23 December 1994,

Noting General Assembly resolution 49/193 of 23 December 1994,

Deeply concerned at the increase and spread of the practice of enforced disappearances in various parts of the world,

Concerned at the large number of reports concerning harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearances or relatives of disappeared persons,

Noting with satisfaction in this connection that the Working Group reports increased co-operation on the part of most States,

Recalling its resolution 1994/70 of 9 March 1994 on co-operation with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies,

Having considered the report of the Working Group (E/CN.4/1995/36) and the report of the expert, member of the Working Group and responsible for the special process dealing with the problem of missing persons in the territory of the former Yugoslavia (E/CN.4/1995/37),

  1. Expresses its appreciation to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances for the way in which it is performing its task, and thanks it for submitting a report to the Commission in accordance with resolution 1994/39 of 4 March 1994;
  2. Takes note of the report of the Working Group (E/CN.4/1995/36);
  3. Encourages the Working Group, in its efforts to help to eliminate the practice of enforced disappearances, to submit to the Commission all information it deems necessary and any specific recommendations it may wish to make regarding the fulfilment of its task;
  4. Notes that the primary role of the Working Group, as described in its reports, is to act as a channel of communication between families of the disappeared persons and the Governments concerned, with a view to ensuring that sufficiently documented and clearly identified individual cases are investigated and to ascertain whether such information falls under its mandate and contains the required elements;
  5. Reminds the Working Group of the need to observe, in its humanitarian task, United Nations standards and practices regarding the handling of communications and the consideration of government replies;
  6. Deplores the fact that, as the Working Group stresses in paragraph 440 of its report, some Governments have never provided substantive replies concerning enforced disappearances alleged to have occurred in their countries, nor acted on the recommendations concerning them made in the reports of the Working Group;
  7. Urges the Governments concerned, particularly those which have not yet responded to communications transmitted to them by the Working Group, to take action as rapidly as possible concerning these communications, to co-operate with and assist the Working Group so that it may carry out its mandate effectively, and in particular to reply expeditiously to its requests for information;
  8. Also urges the Governments concerned to intensify their co-operation with the Working Group on any action taken pursuant to recommendations addressed to them by the Working Group;
  9. Once again urges Governments to take steps to protect the families of disappeared persons against any intimidation or ill-treatment to which they might be subjected;
  10. Encourages Governments to give serious consideration to inviting the Working Group to visit their countries so as to enable the Working Group to fulfil its mandate even more effectively;
  11. Urges Governments to take steps to ensure that, when a state of emergency is introduced, the protection of human rights is guaranteed, particularly as regards the prevention of enforced disappearances;
  12. Reminds Governments of the need to ensure that their competent authorities conduct prompt and impartial inquiries in all circumstances whenever there is reason to believe that an enforced disappearance has occurred in a territory under their jurisdiction;
  13. Recalls that, if allegations are confirmed, the perpetrators should be prosecuted;
  14. Expresses its profound thanks to the many Governments that have co-operated with the Working Group and replied to its requests for information, and to the Governments that have invited the Working Group to visit their countries, asks them to give all necessary attention to the Working Group's recommendations, and invites them to inform the Working Group of any action they take on those recommendations;
  15. Commends in particular the efforts of Governments which investigate and/or develop appropriate mechanisms to investigate any cases of enforced disappearance which are brought to their attention, and encourages all the Governments concerned to expand their efforts in this area;
  16. Invites States, taking into account the conclusions of the Working Group, to consider taking effective measures, including if appropriate legislative measures, to implement the principles of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;
  17. Invites, in this connection, all Governments to take appropriate legislative or other steps to prevent and punish the practice of enforced disappearance, in keeping with the Declaration, and to take action at the national and regional levels and in co-operation with the United Nations, if appropriate through technical assistance;
  18. Recalls that all acts of enforced disappearance are offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their extreme seriousness under criminal law;
  19. Encourages States to provide concrete information, as some have already done, on measures taken to give effect to the Declaration, as well as obstacles encountered;
  20. Again invites the Working Group to identify obstacles to the realization of the Declaration, to recommend ways of overcoming those obstacles and to pursue in this respect its dialogue with Governments and institutions concerned;
  21. Notes that the Working Group, in conformity with paragraph 17 of resolution 1994/39, has undertaken to revise its working methods, in particular the presentation of its report, taking into account the provisions of the Declaration;
  22. Invites the Working Group to continue to consider the question of impunity, in close collaboration with the rapporteurs appointed by the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and with due regard for the relevant provisions of the Declaration;
  23. Requests the Working Group to pay particular attention to cases of children subjected to enforced disappearance and children of disappeared persons and to co-operate closely with the Governments concerned to search for and identify these children;
  24. Notes the activities of non-governmental organizations to support the implementation of the Declaration and invites them to continue to facilitate its dissemination and to contribute to the work of the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities;
  25. Takes note of the co-operation provided to the Working Group by non-governmental organizations;
  26. Takes note with interest of the report of the expert, member of the Working Group and responsible for the special process dealing with the problem of missing persons in the territory of the former Yugoslavia (E/CN.4/1995/37);
  27. Decides to extend for a three-year period the mandate of the Working Group, composed of five independent experts, in order to enable it to take into consideration all such information concerning enforced, involuntary or arbitrary disappearances, as may be communicated to it on cases brought to its attention, while maintaining the principle of the submission of annual reports;
  28. Requests the Working Group to report on its work to the Commission at its fifty-second session and to continue to discharge its mandate discreetly and conscientiously;
  29. Requests once more the Secretary-General to ensure that the Working Group receives all necessary assistance, in particular the staff and resources it requires to perform its functions, especially in carrying out missions, following them up or holding sessions in countries that would be prepared to receive it;
  30. Also requests the Secretary-General to keep the Working Group and the Commission on Human Rights regularly informed of the steps he takes for the widespread dissemination and promotion of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

53rd meeting, 3 March 1995
[Adopted without a vote]
(c) Copyright 1997
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland

Posted on 1999-01-01


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