The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) today issued its findings on Mauritania, Nigeria, Mexico and the Netherlands after reviewing the four States parties during its latest session.
The findings contain the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations on the implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, as well as positive aspects. Key highlights include:
The Committee noted that consultations are underway to determine the measures to settle “passif humanitaire”, the three-year era that began in 1989 and saw large part of the population subjected to enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, extra-judicial execution and mass expulsion. The Committee, however, noticed that the proposals to establish a procedure for access to truth and reconciliation had not been considered in depth. It called on Mauritania to ensure that all cases of enforced disappearance during this period are thoroughly investigated until the fate of those who have been disappeared is clarified. It also asked the State party to prosecute and sentence all who had participated in the commission of enforced disappearance, including military and civilian superiors.
Regarding the limitations faced by Mauritanian women concerning child custody, inheritance and access to social benefits, the Committee was concerned about the negative impact of these limitations on women’s full enjoyment of their human rights. The Committee recommended that Mauritania ensure that all women and girls who are victims or relatives of the enforced disappearance can exercise without restriction all the rights enshrined in the Convention.
The Committee noted with preoccupation that, according to the State party, there has been an increase in acts of enforced disappearances in Nigeria. It recommended that the State authorities generate accurate and up-to-date statistical information on disappeared individuals, disaggregated by sexual orientation, gender identity, age, nationality, place of origin and racial or ethnic origin, and establish a nationwide database.
The Committee regretted that the State party gave no information about the investigation into the acts of enforced disappearance, prosecution of perpetrators, and search for the disappeared. It called upon Nigeria to increase its efforts to ensure that any arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty conducted and concealed by State agents or by whom acting with the State authorisation are investigated immediately and that the alleged perpetrators are brought to justice. The Committee further asked Nigeria to take all necessary measures to assist victims and locate those disappeared.
The Committee took note that the National Register of Disappeared and Forcibly Disappeared Persons had registered 111,540 individuals as disappeared in Mexico from January 1, 1962 to September 12, 2023, and was concerned that the data is being updated without following the Homologated Search Protocol and international standards. The Committee called on Mexico to ensure the transparency of the methodology used to update the National Register so as to guarantee the reliability of the collected data, and that the process be coordinated by the National Search Commission, independently and impartially. The Committee also underscored that Mexico must establish mechanisms that ensure the participation of victims’ groups and adopt measures to avoid their re-victimisation and protect the security of the information contained in the Register.
The Committee raised concern over the inadequate investigation of the alarming number of disappearances, its consequential low convictions, and almost absolute impunity. It urged the State party to ensure the immediate, impartial and thorough investigation of allegations of enforced disappearances, but also of disappearances committed by people or groups acting without the State’s authorisation, support or acquiescence. It also asked Mexico to act with due diligence at all stages of the process, prosecute and punish the perpetrators with appropriate penalties.
The Committee expressed concern about reports alleging the disappearance of migrants at sea while attempting to reach Dutch territories in the Caribbean, including suspected victims of trafficking. The Committee further raised alarm over the large number of unaccompanied minors that have disappeared from asylum reception centres in the European part of the Netherlands, possibly as a result of suspected human trafficking. It recommended that the Kingdom of the Netherlands redouble its efforts to prevent and investigate the disappearance of migrants, especially unaccompanied minors from asylum reception centres, and enhance the capacity to search for and identify disappeared migrants.
Regarding the State party’s decision in 2021 to temporarily suspend intercountry adoptions in view of reported abuses, the Committee regretted that the State party did not provide statistical data and specific information on measures to establish review and annulment procedures. The Committee reiterated its recommendation that the State party establish specific procedures to review and, where appropriate, annul any adoption, placement or guardianship of children resulting from enforced disappearance and to re-establish the true identity of the children concerned, taking into account the best interests of the child.
During the session, the Committee adopted its periodic report on Urgent Actions, in which it highlighted the trends in the registered requests for urgent action, related to 1,634 disappeared individuals in 27 States parties.
It further adopted and launched its first general comment on enforced disappearances in the context of migration, addressing the tragic phenomenon that thousands of migrants disappeared every year while trying to reach other countries. “Rigid migration policies involving pushbacks, expulsions and detentions increase risks for enforced disappearances. Specific measures need to be taken to address the phenomenon,” said Olivier de Frouville, Chair of the Committee.
The Committee also published a Practical Guide for the Ratification of the Convention to assist States to become parties to the Convention and to answer questions commonly raised by States when considering this commitment, with a toolbox to encourage and support States in joining to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances and fight against the impunity of this heinous crime.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies.