United Nations accepts individuals submissions of enforced disappearance cases. Please see below for guidelines. To submit your case you can click and download the related form here or simply copy paste from below.
Form to Submit a Communication on a Victim of an Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance
Important: Elements indicated with (*) are mandatory.
Note: If any information contained in the report, besides the mandatory requested elements, should be kept confidential, please mark the word “CONFIDENTIAL” beside the relevant entry.
CASES SUBMITTED BY ORGANISATIONS:
Please note that if this case is being submitted to the Working Group by an organisation, it is necessary for your organisation to carry out follow-up in the future on each case by conveying Government information to the family sent from the Working Group, and from the family to the Working Group until the fate or whereabouts of the person are determined. In that regard, please indicate whether the reported victim’s family has given their direct consent that this case is being submitted by your organisation to the Working Group on their behalf and whether your organisation will be able to provide follow up information between the family and the Working Group.
Signature of author:
Address to submit cases:
fax: 4122 917 9006, attn: WGEID
OHCHR, Palais des Nations
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Practical Information the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) in a nutshell
The WGEID, whose permanent Secretariat is based in Geneva (Switzerland), is made up of five independent experts. The WGEID holds three regular sessions during the year.
THE WGEID DOES NOT:
- directly investigate individual cases;
- directly adopt measures of protection against reprisals;
- establish individual or State responsibility in cases of enforced disappearance;
- judge and sanction;
- carry out exhumations;
- grant just satisfaction or forms of reparation; nor
- deal with disappearance perpetrated by non-State actors (e.g. rebel groups).
WHAT ARE THE WGEID’S PROCEDURES?
Urgent Appeals: The WGEID transmits directly (within 1 or 2 days after receipt) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country concerned, through the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva, cases that occurred within the 3 months preceding receipt of the report. For cases that happened before the 3 said months (standard cases), the Group may authorize transmission to the government concerned, requesting to carry out investigations and inform it about the results.
General Allegations: allegations are formulated by relatives of disappeared people and NGOs with regard to existing obstacles in given countries to the implementation of the 1992 Declaration. Such allegations are transmitted to governments for their response.
Prompt Intervention for reprisals: the WGEID transmits to the government concerned information concerning cases of intimidation, persecution or reprisal against relatives of disappeared people, witnesses or their families or members of NGOs concerned with disappearances, calling on the government to take steps to protect all the fundamental rights of the persons affected.
Country Visits: upon previous consent by the relevant government, the WGEID can visit a country to assess the overall situation of disappearances. It will then release a report on such visit.
Annual Reports: the WGEID reports annually to the Human Rights Council on its activities, informing also on its communications with governments and NGOs, its missions, all cases of disappearance received during the year, and the implementation of the 1992 Declaration.
All procedures of the WGEID are free of charge.
WHY SHOULD A CASE BE SUBMITTED TO THE WGEID?
The WGEID accepts cases from any country in the word. Further, it is not necessary to exhaust domestic remedies before submitting a case to the Group. Finally, international pressure may be a key factor in the solution of a case of disappearance or reprisal against people working on it.
IS THERE ANY DANGER IN SUBMITTING A CASE TO THE WGEID?
When submitting a case to the WGEID one can ask for confidentiality. This will ensure a certain level of protection and, in case of reprisals, one can send a prompt intervention letter to the WGEID (this is not a “life-jacket” but it has often played a significant role in the prevention of grave violations).
CAN AN INDIVIDUAL SUMBIT A CASE TO THE WGEID ALONE OR DOES
HE OR SHE NEED ASSISTANCE?
The cases of disappearance can be submitted to the WGEID by relatives of disappeared themselves or by organizations acting on their behalf (with prior consent of the relatives). Whoever refers the case to the Group shall be able to maintain the communication with it and to answer promptly to requests of further information or clarification.
WHAT CAN NGOs DO BEFORE THE WGEID?
First, NGOs can inform on the existence and functioning of the WGEID and create awareness. Further, NGOs can assist relatives of disappeared people in submitting cases to the WGEID or in sending prompt intervention letters. They can also present general allegations and support relatives during country visits, organizing meetings with the WGEID.
IS IT DIFFICULT TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE WGEID?
Information to the WGEID shall be submitted in writing (preferably by fax or e-mail). Communications can be written in English, Spanish or French. To contact the WGEID
By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Fax. +41 22 917 9006 (please, indicate: “For the attention of: WGEID”).
By mail: Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Please not that a case of enforced disappearance shall always indicate:
- full name of the victim;
- day, month and year of disappearance;
- place of disappearance;
- State or State-supported forces considered responsible;
- information about any search which has been made, and,
- identity of the person submitting the communication.
Most cases and replies are reviewed at the session following their receipt, if received in sufficient time before the session (at least one month before).
A case remains on the file of the WGEID until it is clarified (this may be for several years).