Bernard Duhaime on
“Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in the 21st Century”
October 19, 2018 · 12:10-1:30
Columbia University, Hamilton Hall, Room 309
Nearly two weeks ago, journalist Jamal Khashoggi stepped into the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. He has not been seen since. Unfortunately, this incident is not a unique phenomenon. There is a long history of States “disappearing” their critics or detractors. Victims of enforced disappearance can be found in every region of the world and in a wide range of contexts.
Professor Bernard Duhaime, the Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, discussed with Dr. Agnès Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Execution and the Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, if and how the practice of enforced disappearances has changed in the 21st Century and what can the UN and the international community do to curb it and bring those accountable to justice.
The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has existed since 1980. One of its primary tasks is to assist families in determining the fate or whereabouts of their family members who are reportedly disappeared. In that humanitarian capacity, the Working Group serves as a channel of communication between family members of victims of enforced disappearance and other sources reporting cases of disappearances, and the Governments concerned. For this purpose the Group receives, examines and transmits to Governments reports of enforced disappearances submitted by relatives of disappeared persons or human rights organizations acting on their behalf. The Working Group request Governments to carry out investigations and to inform the Working Group of the results. The Working Group follows up those requests of information on a periodic basis. Those cases remain open in the Working Group’s database until the fate or whereabouts of the person is determined.