UN drafts new human right: to not disappear

23rd September 2005, Comments 0 comments

GENEVA, Sept 23 (AFP) - A French-led working group has drawn up a draft of a legally binding international convention that cracks down on enforced or involuntary disappearances, diplomats said Friday.

GENEVA, Sept 23 (AFP) - A French-led working group has drawn up a draft of a legally binding international convention that cracks down on enforced or involuntary disappearances, diplomats said Friday.

The convention would oblige signatory countries to act to prevent disappearances and to prosecute any "arrest, detention, abduction or any other deprivation of liberty committed by agents of the state".

Disappearances carried out by people or groups associated with the state, which deny the detained person the protection of the law, are also proscribed.

In addition, signatories commit to searching for those missing and to compensate the victims.

The 26-page document, entitled 'International Convention For The Protection Of All Persons From Enforced Disappearances' will be submitted to the next session of the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), which meets every year in March or April in Geneva, and then at the UN General Assembly in New York.

The draft text reads: "The widespread or systematic practice of enforced disappearance constitutes a crime against humanity."

"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance."

A committee on enforced disappearances, made up of 10 experts, will be in charge of monitoring each signatory country's adherence to the convention.

Relatives of the disappeared will be able to call on the committee to demand information from countries concerned.

However, the committee will only have jurisdiction over cases that occur after the convention comes into force.

The working group, appointed in 1980 by the HRC, began compiling the document in 2003 with the cooperation of rights organisations such as Amnesty International, and under the leadership of the French ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Bernard Kessedjian.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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