Distr.
GENERAL

E/CN.4/1999/62
28 December 1998


Original: ENGLISH

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Fifty-fifth session
Item 11 (b) of the provisional agenda


CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING QUESTIONS OF:
DISAPPEARANCES AND SUMMARY EXECUTIONS


Report of the Working Group on Enforced
or Involuntary Disappearances



CONTENTS


Paragraphs

Introduction 1 - 8

I. ACTIVITIES OF THE WORKING GROUP ON ENFORCED OR INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES IN 1998

A. Meetings and missions of the Working Group 9 - 15

B. Communications 16 - 19

C. Methods of work 20 - 22

II. INFORMATION CONCERNING ENFORCED OR INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES REVIEWED BY THE WORKING GROUP, AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

Afghanistan 23 - 26
Algeria 27 - 34
Angola 35 - 38
Argentina 39 - 44
Bangladesh 45 - 47
Bolivia 48 - 50
Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 - 53
Brazil 54 - 56
Burkina Faso 57 - 59
Burundi 60 - 63
Cambodia 64 - 68
Cameroon 69 - 71
Chad 72 - 74
Chile 75 - 78
China 79 - 81
Colombia 82 - 90
Croatia 91 - 93
Cyprus 94
Democratic Republic of the Congo 95 - 98
Dominican Republic 99 - 101 Egypt 106 - 109
El Salvador 110 - 115
Equatorial Guinea 116 - 118
Eritrea 119 - 121
Ethiopia 122 - 125
Greece 126 - 129
Guatemala 130 - 133
Guinea 134 - 136
Haiti 137 - 139
Honduras 140 - 145
India 146 - 154
Indonesia 155 - 161
Iran (Islamic Republic of) 162 - 164
Iraq 165 - 170
Israel 171 - 173
Kuwait 174 - 176
Lao People's Democratic Republic 177 - 179
Lebanon 180 - 185
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 186 - 188
Malaysia 189 - 193
Mauritania 194 - 196
Mexico 197 - 206
Morocco 207 - 211
Mozambique 212 - 214
Nepal 215 - 220
Nicaragua 221 - 223
Nigeria 224 - 226
Pakistan 227 - 231
Paraguay 232 - 234
Peru 235 - 239
Philippines 240 - 253
Russian Federation 254 - 257
Rwanda 258 - 261
Saudi Arabia 262 - 263
Seychelles 264 - 266
South Africa 267 - 269
Sri Lanka 270 - 286
Sudan 287 - 290
Syrian Arab Republic 291 - 294
Tajikistan 295 - 297
Togo 298 - 300
Turkey 301 - 304
Uganda 305 - 308
Ukraine 309 - 311
Uruguay 312 - 316
Uzbekistan 317 - 319
Venezuela 320 - 322
Yemen 323 - 325
Palestinian Authority 326 - 328

III. COUNTRIES IN WHICH ALL REPORTED CASES OF DISAPPEARANCE HAVE BEEN CLARIFIED

United Arab Emirates 329

IV. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 330 - 339

V. ADOPTION OF THE REPORT 340

Annexes

I. Decisions on individual cases taken by the Working Group during 1998

II. Statistical summary: Cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances reported to the Working Group between 1980 and 1998

Introduction

1. The present report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/40, entitled “Question of enforced disappearances”. /Since its creation in 1980, the Working Group has submitted a report to the Commission annually, starting at the Commission's thirty-seventh session. The document symbols of the previous 16 reports are as follows: E/CN.4/1435 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1492 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1983/14; E/CN.4/1984/21 and Add.1 and 2; E/CN.4/1985/15 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1986/18 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1987/15 and Corr.1 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1988/19 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1989/18 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1990/13; E/CN.4/1991/20 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1992/18 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1993/25 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1994/26 and Corr.1 and 2 and Add.1; E/CN.4/1995/36; E/CN.4/1996/38; E/CN.4/1997/34; E/CN.4/1998/43./ In addition to the specific tasks entrusted to the Working Group by the Commission in this resolution, the Group has also taken into account other mandates stemming from a number of resolutions adopted by the Commission /Resolutions 1998/19, 1998/21, 1998/31, 1998/39, 1998/42, 1998/49, 1998/51, 1998/52, 1998/53 and 1998/74./ entrusted to all special rapporteurs and working groups, all of which have been given due attention and consideration by the Working Group in the course of 1998.

2. In addition to its original mandate, which is to act as a channel of communication between the families of disappeared persons and the Governments concerned, with a view to ensuring that sufficiently documented and clearly identified individual cases are investigated and the whereabouts of the disappeared persons clarified, the Working Group has been entrusted by the Commission with various other tasks. In particular, the Working Group is to monitor States' compliance with their obligations deriving from the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (hereafter referred to as the Declaration). The Working Group has taken the Declaration into account, in particular, in adopting observations on individual countries. As last year, these country-specific observations have been prepared on all countries with more than 50 alleged cases of disappearance, or where more than 5 cases were reported during the period under review.

3. As in previous years, the Working Group has continued to apply the urgent action procedure in cases that allegedly occurred within the three months preceding the receipt by the Group of the report. This year the Working Group sent urgent action appeals in respect of 209 cases to the Governments of the following countries: Algeria, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Yemen.

4. The total number of cases transmitted by the Working Group to Governments since the Group’s inception stands at 48,770. The total number of cases being kept under active consideration as they have not yet been clarified now stands at 45,825. The number of countries with outstanding cases of alleged disappearance was 69 in 1998. During the period under review, the Working Group received some 1,015 new cases of disappearance in 31 countries, 240 of which allegedly occurred in 1998.

5. The Working Group regrets that out of the 69 countries with unclarified cases, the Governments of 32 countries, i.e. almost half, did not communicate with the Group.

6. As in the past, the present report reflects only communications or cases examined before the last day of the third annual session of the Working Group, which was 4 December 1998. Urgent action cases which may have to be dealt
with between that date and the end of the year, as well as communications received from Governments and processed after 4 December 1998, will be reflected in the Working Group's next report.

7. Unfortunately, owing to serious limitations in its resources, the Working Group has not been able to include in the present report some very important sections, such as comments on the draft international convention on the prevention and punishment of enforced disappearances and on the implementation of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. Neither has it been possible to include observations in the country chapter.

8. The Working Group has, because of budgetary constraints this past year, faced serious shortages in the staff servicing its mandate, rendering it difficult for the Group to complete all aspects of its mandate in a satisfactory manner. Nevertheless, the Working Group wishes to express its appreciation to its secretariat which, despite its vastly diminished size, has enabled the Group to carry out its mandate with regard to seeking the whereabouts of disappeared persons, to undertake two field missions and to organize and prepare its three annual sessions. Nevertheless, the Working Group expresses serious concern about its ability in the future, with the present financial and human resources, to carry out, in a satisfactory manner, the mandate assigned to it by the Commission on Human Rights.


I. ACTIVITIES OF THE WORKING GROUP ON ENFORCED OR
INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES IN 1998


A. Meetings and missions of the Working Group

9. The Working Group held three sessions in 1998. The fifty-fourth session was held in New York from 13 to 17 July, and the fifty-fifth and fifty-sixth sessions were held in Geneva from 28 September to 2 October and from 25 November to 4 December, respectively. During its 1998 sessions, the Working Group met with representatives of the Governments of Angola, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Yemen. The Working Group also met with representatives of the Mexican National Commission on Human Rights.

10. In addition, the Working Group met with representatives of human rights organizations, associations of relatives of missing persons and families or witnesses directly concerned with reports of enforced disappearances.

11. By letter dated 19 November 1997, the Government of Iran invited the Working Group to visit that country. The Working Group accepted the invitation and a mutually convenient date is being sought.

12. By letter dated 17 June 1998, the Government of Sri Lanka informed the Working Group that it had agreed, in principle, to the proposal for a visit to Sri Lanka made by the Working Group on 12 December 1997. The Working Group is discussing with the Government a mutually convenient date.

13. By note verbale dated 16 October 1997, the Government of the Republic of Yemen invited the Working Group to visit that country. The mission to the Republic of Yemen took place from 16 to 21 August 1998. The Working Group was represented by Mr. Jonas Foli and Mr. Manfred Nowak. The report on this mission is contained in Addendum I to the present report.

14. By letter dated 28 May 1997, the Government of Turkey informed the Working Group that its request, made on 21 July 1995, to visit Turkey had been accepted by the Government. The mission to Turkey took place from 21 to 25 September 1998. The Working Group was represented by its Chairman, Mr. Ivan Tosevski, and Mr. Diego Garcia-Sayán. The report on this mission is contained in Addendum II to the present report.

15. To date the Working Group has received no reply from the Government of Iraq to its letter dated 21 July 1995 requesting a visit.


B. Communications

16. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted 1,015 new cases of enforced or involuntary disappearance to the Governments of Algeria, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Colombia, the Congo (Democratic Republic of), Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Turkey, Uganda and Yemen; 201 of these cases were sent under the urgent action procedure. Of the newly reported cases, 240 allegedly occurred in 1998 and relate to Algeria, Cambodia, China, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda and Yemen. During the same period, the Working Group clarified 129 cases, in Algeria, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

17. Many of the other cases received by the Working Group were referred back to the sources as they lacked one or more elements required by the Working Group for their transmission, or because it was not clear whether they fell within the Working Group's mandate. Some cases were considered inadmissible within the context of that mandate.

18. As in previous years, the Working Group received reports and expressions of concern from non-governmental organizations, associations of relatives of disappeared persons, and individuals about the safety of persons actively engaged in the search for missing persons, in reporting cases of disappearance or in the investigation of cases. In some countries, the mere fact of reporting a disappearance entailed a serious risk to the life or security of the person making the report or to his or her family members. In addition, individuals, relatives of missing persons and members of human rights organizations were frequently harassed and threatened with death for reporting cases of human rights violations or investigating such cases.

19. Taking into account the ever-increasing number of United Nations field operations with human rights components, and the field offices of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Working Group has continued this year to address itself to these offices in an effort to take advantage of their unique position on the ground in order to improve its information flow with regard to disappearances. Information in this respect is reflected in the appropriate country sections.


C. Methods of work

20. During its fifty-fifth session, at the request of several non-governmental organizations, the Working Group met with their representatives to discuss its methods of work. A number of representatives underlined the importance of the work carried out by the Working Group in seeking the whereabouts of disappeared persons and, in particular, the effectiveness of its urgent action procedure. However, they expressed concern about the decision taken by the Working Group in 1997 to discontinue consideration of cases where it considered that it can no longer play any useful role in trying to elucidate them, in particular, if the source is no longer in existence, or in cases in which the families no longer have an interest in pursuing the matter. In this connection, a number of representatives pointed out that, in many cases, the reasons why a source or family members might not respond to a query from the Working Group, or might not wish to pursue investigation, might not be voluntary and that threats and intimidation might be involved. In such cases, they were of the view that the Working Group, before considering a case clarified, should make every effort to investigate the reasons behind such action or non-action by the source or the family concerned.

21. With regard to compensation in cases where a person reported to have disappeared is found to have been killed, many representatives were of the view that it was part of the humanitarian mandate of the Working Group to ensure that the family was informed, the body restituted to the family and compensation paid.

22. Many representatives of non-governmental organizations expressed concern about inadequate communication between the source and the Working Group on action taken by the Group in individual cases, including decisions with regard to admissibility and information on follow-up and results of cases transmitted under the urgent action procedure.


II. INFORMATION CONCERNING ENFORCED OR INVOLUNTARY
DISAPPEARANCES IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES REVIEWED
BY THE WORKING GROUP, AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY


Afghanistan

23. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Afghanistan.

24. The two outstanding cases concern a Jordanian journalist who reportedly disappeared in Jalalabad, province of Nangarhar, in 1989 while on assignment, and an American citizen of Afghan origin who allegedly disappeared in 1993 when he was on a visit to Afghanistan.

25. Although the Working Group is aware that many more cases of disappearance could have occurred in Afghanistan, individual cases that would allow it to take action, in accordance with its methods of work, have not been brought to the Working Group's attention.

26. In the past, the Government has provided information on the two outstanding cases, stating that in one case the person concerned had never been arrested and in the second case, following a lengthy investigation by the security forces, as well as efforts by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the subject's name had not been found in the register of any prison. During the period under review, no new information was received from the Government of Afghanistan which would allow the Working Group to clarify the fate and whereabouts of the persons reported as missing.


Algeria

27. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted 578 newly reported cases of disappearance to the Government of Algeria, 12 of which reportedly occurred in 1998; 11 were sent under the urgent action procedure. During the same period, the Working Group clarified four cases on the basis of information provided by the source. In two cases, the persons had been released from detention and, in another case, the person had been transferred to a recognized place of detention, but was unable to communicate with his family. A fourth person was reportedly leading a normal life in Tunis. At the same time, the Working Group retransmitted to the Government 80 cases updated with new information from the source. With regard to the newly reported cases transmitted by the Working Group on 15 December 1998, in accordance with its methods of work, it must be understood that the Government could not respond prior to the adoption of the present report.

28. The majority of the 731 reported cases of disappearance occurred between 1993 and 1997. The security forces were allegedly responsible for most of the arrests and subsequent disappearances, which reportedly occurred throughout the country, although mainly in Algiers. Most of the victims had no particular political activity. However, a number of the disappeared persons are reported to have been members or sympathizers of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). The victims were from a variety of professions.

29. The majority of the newly reported cases of disappearances occurred between 1994 and 1998, most of them between 1994 and 1996, and concerned mainly middle class men, with the average age of 30 years, from various professional backgrounds, including employees, traders, technicians, students, executives and the liberal professions. Many of the persons concerned were from the public sector or the State administration, including teachers, doctors, or employees of the judiciary. Most of the disappearances are reported to have occurred following arrest at home or at work in the presence of witnesses, such as family members, neighbours, colleagues at work or pedestrians. In cases where persons are reported to have been arrested at their residence, the time of arrest is said to be between midnight and 3 a.m. One third of the victims are said to have been seen after the date of arrest, either at the police station, or in prisons such as El Harrach or Châteauneuf. The forces allegedly responsible for these disappearances include the military, the police, the Gendarmerie and the security forces, sometimes several of them acting together. It is also reported that the security forces often act together with civilians or militia (self-defence groups legitimized by the Government).

30. During the period under review, the Working Group received information from non-governmental organizations concerning non-compliance by the Government of Algeria with provisions of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

31. It is alleged that when family members seek information on their detained relatives from the police or the Gendarmerie, all knowledge of the missing person is denied, allegedly in breach of article 10 of the Declaration relating to the provision of accurate information on the detention of persons deprived of liberty to their family members. It is further alleged that, when carrying out investigations, police officers act in complicity with those responsible for the disappearance. Families of missing persons are often reported to have appealed to institutions established by the Government to deal with human rights issues, such as the Observatoire des Droits de l’Homme and the Médiateur de la République. Reportedly, 3,100 complaints from families of missing persons have been compiled by these institutions. However, it is alleged that these institutions do not function effectively and that the authority of the Observatoire des Droits de l’Homme does not go beyond the gathering of information.

32. Finally, it is alleged that the perpetrators of enforced disappearances act in total impunity anywhere and at any time and that the Algerian authorities are unable to bring those perpetrators to justice, as provided for in article 14 of the Declaration.

33. The Government informed the Working Group of its decision to set up, on 30 August 1998, offices in each wilaya (constituency) for the purpose of receiving persons seeking explanations about their missing relatives. The concerned persons were invited to the headquarters of those institutions to explain their grievances and to provide all the files which might be relevant to the authority to help search for their relatives.

34. During the period under review, the Government also provided information on 10 individual cases. In two cases, the Government stated that the persons concerned had never been subjected to questioning or arrest by the authorities. In one case, the Government indicated that the person had been questioned by the Gendarmerie Nationale in relation to a terrorist crime, but had subsequently been released. In six cases, the Government reported that the investigations carried out were to no avail, and in one case, the Government stated that the person concerned had joined the terrorist groups and that a search warrant had been issued.


Angola

35. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Angola.

36. The four cases which remain pending on the Working Group's books concern four men who were allegedly arrested in 1977 by the Angolan security forces, in particular by the Angolan information and security directorate (DISA). Two of them were reportedly arrested because they were suspected of supporting the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

37. During the period under review, the Government replied to the Working Group concerning the four outstanding cases. It stated that it had taken all possible steps to provide the Working Group with a response. However, it reported, the situation in Angola had deteriorated since the last elections, resulting in massive emigration and the weakening of legal institutions, which had been unable to extend their administration to the whole territory. As a result, no documentation was available on a number of Angolans who had died or disappeared.

38. Representatives of the Government met with the Working Group at its fifty-fifth session and reported that their country had been at war for 30 years and continued at war. Concerning the four outstanding cases, they stated that much time had elapsed since the disappearances and that thousands of citizens had disappeared during the war. They further stated that any investigation or explanation to resolve those cases was impeded by the fact that parts of the country remained out of reach of the central Government. They pointed out that even the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (UNOMA) was unable to move freely and that the location and clarification of the four outstanding cases would only be possible in conditions of peace and the free movement of persons. They also stated that the exact identities of the missing persons and the circumstances of their disappearances were unknown to the Government. The representatives of the Government informed the Working Group of the existence of legal institutions which could, upon request by family members, deliver a declaration of temporary absence and, a few years later, a declaration of definitive absence. They also informed the Working Group that an ad hoc committee composed of representatives of the Government, UNITA and UNOMA had been established to investigate political disappearances. Furthermore, despite the fact that the Ministry for Social Reinsertion was in charge of investigating disappearances and had contacts with families of disappeared persons, the family members of the four persons reported to be missing had not submitted a claim to this competent authority.


Argentina

39. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Argentina.

40. The vast majority of the 3,453 reported cases of disappearance in Argentina occurred between 1975 and 1978 under the military dictatorship, in the context of its so-called war against subversion.

41. As in the past, a number of non-governmental organizations have continued to address themselves to the Working Group with regard to their ongoing quest to have the fate of the persons who disappeared in Argentina brought to light. In this connection, it was reported that legal redress for victims of human rights violations committed during the military dictatorship (1976-1983) had been exhausted with the amnesty laws, Ley de Punto Final (Full Stop Law)(Act 23,492) of 1986 and Ley de Obediencia Debida (Law of Due Obedience) (Act 23,521) of 1987, as well as with the indultos (presidential pardons), of 1989 and 1990, thus contributing to a climate of impunity. However, it was reported that new evidence had emerged since 1995, through revelations by former members of the security forces, regarding the systematic involvement of the armed forces in human rights violations. Former Captain Alfredo Astiz had admitted having participated in operations by units of the Escuela Mecánica de la Armada (ESMA) (Navy mechanics school) aimed at abducting, disappearing or killing people. New information had also come to light from neighbouring countries regarding past collaboration between their security forces and the Argentine military government.

42. It was reported that the Cámara Federal (Federal Court) of Buenos Aires had opened an inquiry into the cases of people who disappeared after being taken to ESMA. Investigations into the cases of three foreign nationals were reopened. New criminal proceedings were initiated against senior members of the military regime on complaints relating to the offence of abduction of minors. Amnestied members of the armed forces had thus been charged with an offence not covered by the amnesty laws or presidential pardons.

43. The Working Group was informed that a trial in Italy pertaining to Italian citizens who disappeared in Argentina was continuing. In addition, it was reported that the Argentine authorities had rejected a request from a senior judge of Central Examining Court No. 5 of the Supreme Court of Spain for a former Argentine President to be summoned to appear in an investigation opened in Spain into the disappearance of 266 Spaniards or Argentine citizens of Spanish origin or descent. The request was rejected on the grounds that the alleged events took place in Argentina and that the case could only be tried by Argentine local authorities in the exercise of their sovereign power. Lastly, it was alleged that, although the authorities agreed to pay compensation to the families of some disappeared persons, investigations into the fate of the victims were not being conducted.

44. During the period under review, the Government of Argentina replied to the allegations of non-compliance with provisions of the Declaration made by non-governmental organizations. It advised the Working Group that laws 23,492 and 23,521 had been abrogated. It also clarified some allegations transmitted by the Working Group regarding recent judicial decisions of the Buenos Aires Federal Court and submitted information on the case of the disappearance of Dagmar Hagelin, the so-called Lapacó case, as well as information on the state of the investigation on disappeared children.


Bangladesh

45. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted to the Government of Bangladesh.

46. The one outstanding case, which reportedly occurred in 1996, concerns the organizing secretary of the Hill Women's Federation (an organization which reportedly campaigns for the rights of the indigenous people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts), who is said to have been forcibly taken from her home in the Chittagong Hill Tracts by security personnel before the general elections of 12 June 1996. It is believed that her abduction may have been linked to her support of a parliamentary candidate representing the interests of indigenous people.

47. During the period under review, the Government provided information on this case, stating that it had been thoroughly investigated by the Government Inquiry Commission and separately by human rights activist groups, prior to and following the peace accord in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and that relevant findings suggested that there was no evidence of any forced abduction. On the contrary, it was possible that she had left home with a friend, of her own volition.


Bolivia

48. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Bolivia.

49. The majority of the 48 cases of disappearance reported to the Working Group occurred between 1980 and 1982 in the context of measures taken by the authorities following two military coups d'état. Twenty of these cases have been clarified.

50. During the period under review, no new information was received from the Government with regard to the outstanding cases. The Working Group is, therefore, unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the persons concerned.


Bosnia and Herzegovina

51. Between 1992 and 1995, some 20,000 persons disappeared in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As the Working Group’s mandate does not cover international armed conflicts, the Commission on Human Rights established a special process on missing persons in the territory of the former Yugoslavia (resolutions 1994/72, 1995/35 and 1996/71). A member of the Working Group, Mr. Manfred Nowak, was entrusted with carrying out this task; his reports are contained in documents E/CN.4/1995/37, E/CN.4/196/36 and E/CN.4/1997/55. After his resignation on 26 March 1997, the Commission on Human Rights, in its resolution 1997/57, requested the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the territory of the former Yugoslavia to act on behalf of the United Nations in dealing with the question of the missing.

52. Consequently, the Working Group decided, in May 1997, that, for the time being, cases of disappearance which had occurred in the Republic of Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina until the date of entry into force of the Dayton Peace Agreement on 14 December 1995 would not be dealt with by the Working Group and, consequently, it would not report to the Commission on Human Rights on those cases. With respect to cases in other successor States of the former Yugoslavia and cases which occurred in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina after 14 December 1995, the Working Group decided that it would examine those cases in accordance with its methods of work.

53. The Working Group has not received any newly reported cases of disappearance pertaining to the period after the entry into force of the Dayton Peace Agreement. With respect to the clarification of cases that occurred before 14 December 1995, the Working Group refers to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (E/CN.4/1999/42).


Brazil

54. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Brazil.

55. Most of the 56 cases of disappearance transmitted to the Government by the Group occurred between 1969 and 1975 under the military government, in particular during the guerrilla warfare in the Aerugo region. The majority of those cases were clarified by the Working Group in 1996.

56. During the period under review, no new information was received from the Government with regard to the outstanding cases. The Working Group is, therefore, unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the persons concerned.


Burkina Faso

57. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Burkina Faso.

58. The three outstanding cases of disappearance reported to the Working Group concerned two soldiers and a university professor, all of whom were reportedly arrested in 1989, together with 27 other persons, on charges of having participated in an alleged conspiracy against the Government.

59. Despite a number of reminders, no information has ever been received by the Working Group from the Government regarding these cases. The Working Group is, therefore, unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared persons.


Burundi

60. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted two newly reported cases of disappearance to the Government of Burundi.

61. The majority of the 51 cases of disappearance reported to the Working Group are said to have occurred in Bujumbura between November and December 1991, following attacks against the Government in the capital and the north-western provinces of Cibitoke and Bubanza, as well as in September 1994 in Kamenge and Cibitoke, suburbs of Bujumbura. Thirty-one cases concern persons of Hutu origin who were reportedly arrested by members of the security forces, mainly composed of the Tutsi minority. Most of them were later held at Mura and at paratroopers' barracks in Bujumbura, while others allegedly disappeared while in custody at the headquarters of the Gendarmerie's Special Investigations Brigade in Bujumbura. Other cases of disappearance allegedly concern Hutus, most of whom had reportedly been assembled and held by members of the security forces on the playing field of the Ecole technique supérieure in Bujumbura, Kamenge suburb. These persons, reportedly suspected of possessing arms, were said to have been arrested and taken away to an unknown destination. Two other cases of disappearance in 1995 allegedly concern persons arrested by gendarmes; one at a checkpoint in Bujumbura, and the other during an identity check on the outskirts of the capital. One case concerns a colonel responsible for military schools and the training centre of the Burundian army, who was reportedly abducted prior to his departure for a seminar abroad. Two cases reportedly occurred in August 1997 in Makambo province, near the Tanzanian border, and concerned a parliamentarian and his driver who were reportedly arrested by members of the military on their way to the United Republic of Tanzania.

62. One of the two newly-reported cases of disappearance, both of which occurred in 1997, concerned an engineer and a former secretary-general of the Burundian People Union, an opposition political party; the other concerned a person who had been allegedly arrested by military forces from the military post of Kwipera.

63. Despite several reminders, no information has ever been received by the Working Group from the Government with regard to these cases. The Working Group is, therefore, unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared persons.


Cambodia

64. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted, for the first time, two cases of alleged disappearances to the Government of Cambodia, which reportedly occurred in 1998 and were sent under the urgent action procedure.

65. In both cases, the persons are reported to have disappeared on 9 September 1998 when police are said to have shot at 60 monks during a peace march. The incident is said to have occurred in the context of growing political tension and violence since September 1998 involving opposition politicians and their supporters, who are said to have engaged in protests against alleged electoral fraud, following the 26 July 1998 general elections, of which the ruling Cambodian People’s Party was declared the winner.

66. During the period under review, information concerning developments in Cambodia having an influence on the phenomenon of disappearances and the implementation of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance were received from non-governmental organizations.

67. Allegations were received by the Working Group about the arrest of scores of people, possibly as many as 200, that have occurred in the context described above. It is said that the authorities have acknowledged only 22 arrests and have claimed that 19 of those persons were released. It is also believed that at least 20 people, and possibly many more, were killed in the two weeks following the crackdown on opposition protests. It is feared that the unacknowledged prisoners may be among the dead. There are also fears for the safety of all detainees, based on eyewitness accounts of the arrest of Buddhist monks, students and others, and separate eyewitness reports of dead bodies in Phnom Penh and the surrounding area, combined with denial by the Cambodian authorities that any of those killed were protestors.

68. During the period under review, no new information was received from the Government with regard to the two cases. The Working Group is, therefore, unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared persons.


Cameroon

69. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Cameroon.

70. All six cases reported to the Working Group occurred in 1992. They concerned five young people aged 13 to 17, including three brothers, who were reportedly taken into police custody in Bamenda in February 1992 at the time of the arrest of the leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Movement and over 40 peasants following a peaceful demonstration. The father of the three brothers also disappeared, after making inquiries as to the whereabouts of his children.

71. The Working Group has requested the Government to provide it with the court judgement concerning the person who alleged those disappearances and who was reportedly charged with making false claims and with the false use of a birth certificate.


Chad

72. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Chad.

73. Of the 12 cases of disappearance reported to the Working Group, one occurred in 1983, five in 1991 and six in 1996. One case concerned a member of the Democratic National Union who was reportedly taken prisoner in July 1983 in the context of clashes between government troops and opposition forces which took place at Faya-Largeau. Five cases concerned members of the Hadjerai ethnic group who were reportedly arrested on 13 October 1991 by the Chadian security forces. They are said to have been detained following an announcement by the authorities that an attempt by a section of the Chadian armed forces to overthrow President Idriss Deby had been thwarted. Six other cases concerned members of armed opposition groups allegedly arrested by the Sudanese security forces in 1996 at El Geneina, Sudan, near the Chadian border, and handed over to the Chadian security forces. They are alleged to have then been transferred to N'Djamena by members of the Agence nationale de sécurité.

74. Despite several reminders, no information has ever been received by the Working Group from the Government concerning these cases. The Working Group is, therefore, unable to report on the fate of the disappeared persons.


Chile

75. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Chile.

76. The vast majority of the 912 reported cases of disappearance in Chile occurred between 1973 and 1976 under the military government, and concerned political opponents of the military dictatorship from various social strata, most of them activists in Chilean left-wing parties. Those responsible for the disappearances were members of the army, the air force, the Carabineros and persons acting with the acquiescence of the authorities.

77. During the period under review, no new information was received from the Government of Chile.

78. During its fifty-sixth session, the Working Group received a number of communications to the effect that the arrest in the United Kingdom of the former Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, under whose military government, allegedly, hundreds of cases of enforced or involuntary disappearance occurred, opened the possibility of prosecuting and punishing highly placed officials responsible for enforced or involuntary disappearances, confirming the emerging international consensus against impunity.


China

79. During the period under review, 14 new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of China, two of which occurred in 1998 and were sent under the urgent action procedure. During the same period, the Working Group clarified four cases on the basis of information previously received from the Government to which no objection was received from the source; in all four cases, the persons concerned had been detained and subsequently released. The Working Group also clarified three cases on the basis of information provided by the source. In one case, the person had been released after several days in detention; in two other cases, the persons were in detention. At the same time, the Group retransmitted to the Government two cases, updated with new information from the source.

80. Most of the 87 cases of disappearance reported to have occurred in China took place between 1988 and 1990, but several cases are said to have occurred in 1995 and 1996. The majority of these cases concerned Tibetans. Allegedly, some of them disappeared after being arrested for writing or singing national poems or songs. Nineteen of these cases concerned a group of Tibetan monks who had reportedly been arrested in Nepal, interrogated by Chinese officials while in detention and, allegedly, turned over to the Chinese authorities at the Jatopani border. One of the disappeared persons is said to have been arrested for having participated in a religious ceremony in which a prayer was offered for the long life of the Dalai Lama, and several others were reportedly arrested in Lhasa in 1995 and 1996 for having distributed leaflets containing political messages. Four monks who reportedly disappeared in 1996 were allegedly accused of having produced pro-independence posters and leaflets containing prayers for the health and safety of the child who was recognized by the Dalai Lama on 14 May 1995 as the reincarnation of the late Panchen Lama, and who was reported to have disappeared. Several other persons are reported to have disappeared following celebrations to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Other persons who reportedly disappeared were human rights activists involved in pro-democracy activities. One other case is said to have occurred in 1995 in Beijing and concerns a writer who was reportedly arrested two days after signing a petition entitled “Greeting the United Nations Year of Tolerance, we appeal for the realization of tolerance in China”, on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the 1989 Tianamin Square incident. Three of the reported cases concerned persons who disappeared after the incidents in Beijing in 1989.

81. During the period under review, the Government provided information on six individual cases of reported disappearance. With regard to four cases, the Government replied that the persons had been detained and released; in one other case, the Government replied that the person was currently in a re-education-through-labour facility. In the case of the mother of the boy, Gedhun Nyima, who was reportedly recognized as the reincarnation of the tenth Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama in 1995, the Government replied that she was also known under another name and was currently serving a prison sentence.


Colombia

82. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted 54 newly reported cases to the Government of Colombia, 50 of which reportedly occurred in 1998. Fifty of these cases were transmitted under the urgent action procedure. During the same period, the Group clarified three cases on the basis of information provided by the Government on which the sources did not make any observations during the six-month period. In two cases, the Government had reported that the persons had been found alive, or had been killed and the corpses found. In the other case, the person was being held in the prison of the Judicial Circuit of Turbo in the department of Antioquia. With regard to the newly reported cases transmitted by the Working Group on 15 December 1998, in accordance with its methods of work, it must be understood that the Government could not respond prior to the adoption of the present report.

83. The majority of the 1,060 reported cases of disappearance in Colombia have occurred since 1981. The cases include those of persons belonging to civic, social and human rights groups who had denounced human rights violations and abuses by members of the security forces or paramilitary groups.

84. The newly reported cases transmitted in 1998 occurred mainly in the municipalities of Apartado and Bello in the department of Antioquia; in the municipality of El Carmen del Atrato in the department of Choco; in the municipality of Santa Elena del Opon and in Barrancabermeja City in the department of Santander and in the capital of the country, Santa Fé de Bogotá. Most of the abductions and detentions leading to disappearances were carried out by members of paramilitary groups whose actions were believed to be undertaken in complicity with, or to be overlooked by, members of the security forces, very often in areas of heavy military presence. In a few cases, the army was allegedly responsible for the detention.

85. During the period under review, the Government transmitted information on 93 outstanding cases. Most of the replies contained details of legal proceedings carried out by various authorities dealing with the cases. The Government also submitted information on measures it had taken to protect members of the human rights non-governmental organization, Association of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees (ASFADDES), who had been the subject of several acts of intimidation, harassment and threats, as well as a bomb explosion in its offices in Medellín in June 1997. Several persons were injured and the Association’s files were destroyed.

86. The Government of Colombia also reported that it had submitted to the Congress a bill which defined the crime of enforced disappearance and established severe penalties.

87. The Working Group received reports from non-governmental organizations suggesting that the main recommendations made by the Group following its visit to Colombia in 1988 had not been implemented. It was alleged that enforced disappearances of civilians by paramilitary organizations allied to the security forces and declared illegal by the Government in 1989 had escalated dramatically in several departments of the country, including Antioquia, Choco, Cesar, Santander and Sucre. It was reported that such groups frequently acted with the acquiescence of the armed forces. The Government’s failure to take action to halt paramilitary crimes was illustrated by recent events in the department of Santander and in the Urabá region of Antioquia department. Civilians suspected of being guerrilla sympathizers continued to be the principal victims of enforced disappearance. It was alleged that human rights defenders and members of non-governmental organizations continued to be subjected to a violent campaign of harassment, intimidation and attacks.

88. It was reported that families of victims of enforced disappearance and non-governmental organizations acting on their behalf were continuing to call for a thorough and impartial investigation into cases of enforced disappearance, in accordance with article 13 of the Declaration. It was said that although official investigations had been initiated, the fate of most of the disappeared persons remained unknown and only a few people had been brought to justice. It was alleged that judicial investigations have stagnated, enabling those responsible to benefit from impunity.

89. It was also alleged that in spite of formal denunciation of disappearances by the families, authorities showed little interest in the cases and make no immediate attempt to investigate them. It was said that, in many cases, the authorities to whom applications were made, had either denied competency in the case or had recommended that the relatives apply to another authority. It was said that the relatives of the missing persons are forced into a bureaucratic nightmare, seemingly designed to guarantee the impunity of those responsible.

90. Lastly, it was reported that, in recent years, paramilitary organizations had increasingly practised selective disappearance of civic leaders perceived as real or potential guerrilla supporters. It was said that paramilitary groups often used “black lists” to identify community leaders, before abducting them. It was further stated that these disappearances were often aimed at subjugating communities.


Croatia

91. As the Working Group’s mandate does not cover international armed conflicts, the Commission on Human Rights established a special process on missing persons in the territory of the former Yugoslavia (resolutions 1994/72, 1995/35 and 1996/71). A member of the Working Group, Mr. Manfred Nowak, was entrusted with carrying out this task; his reports are contained in documents E/CN.4/1995/37, E/CN.4/196/36 and E/CN.4/1997/55. After his resignation on 26 March 1997, the Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 1997/57, requested the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the territory of the former Yugoslavia to act on behalf of the United Nations in dealing with the question of the missing.

92. Consequently, the Working Group decided in May 1997 that, for the time being, cases of disappearance which had occurred in the Republic of Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, until the date of entry into force of the Dayton Peace Agreement on 14 December 1995 would not be dealt with by the Working Group and, consequently, the Group would not report to the Commission on Human Rights on those cases. With respect to cases in other successor States of the former Yugoslavia and cases which occurred in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina after 14 December 1995, the Working Group decided that it would examine those cases in accordance with its methods of work.

93. The Working Group’s secretariat has not received any newly reported cases of disappearance pertaining to the period after the entry into force of the Dayton Peace Agreement. With respect to the clarification of cases that occurred before 14 December 1995, the Working Group refers to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (E/CN.4/1999/42).


Cyprus

94. As in the past, the Working Group continued to remain available to assist the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus. The Working Group noted that in 1998 the overall situation relating to that Committee's work had remained as indicated in its previous report (E/CN.4/1998/43, paras. 148-151).


Democratic Republic of the Congo

95. During the period under review, 18 new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which occurred in 1998 and were sent under the urgent action procedure.

96. The majority of the 39 reported cases of disappearance concerned, on the one hand, persons suspected either of being members of the guerrilla group, Parti de la révolution populaire, or political activists who disappeared between 1975 and 1985, and, on the other hand, Rwandan refugees who disappeared in 1998. One other case concerned a journalist who was allegedly abducted from his home in 1993 by members of the Division spéciale présidentielle and the civil guard, and interrogated on the premises of the State radio station, Voix du Zaïre, and four men who were allegedly arrested in Likasi in 1994 by soldiers and detained for almost two months before being transferred to Kinshasa; since then their whereabouts have remained unknown. Two cases concerned villagers from Kitshanga who were reportedly arrested by members of the Zairian Armed Forces in September 1996 on their way to Goma, the capital of North Kivu. Another case concerned a man said to have been arrested, also in September 1996, by members of the Service d'actions et de renseignements militaires (Service for Action and Military Intelligence).

97. The 18 newly reported cases concern Rwandan refugees who have allegedly been abducted by the Tutsis military in Kisangani, the majority of whom are women and their children, abducted together with their parents. One case concerned a professor who was allegedly arrested by members of the Rwandan Patriotic Army in the presence of students and other professors. Another case concerns the minister of the church of Mvuka Ma Bundu who was allegedly taken to the military camp of Kokolo.

98. During the period under review, no information was received from the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Working Group is, therefore, unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared persons.


Dominican Republic

99. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of the Dominican Republic.

100. Of the two outstanding cases, one concerns a person who was arrested in June 1984 in Santo Domingo and who subsequently disappeared. The other

concerns a university lecturer, who was also a journalist and political activist, and who was reportedly detained in May 1994 by members of the army and subsequently taken to a military base.

101. During the period under review, the Government of the Dominican Republic provided information on one of the cases, in which it referred to information it had submitted in the past and stated that the person concerned had a criminal record for crimes which included rape and leaving the country illegally, and therefore it was not unlikely that he was out of the country.


Ecuador

102. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted to the Government of Ecuador one newly-reported case of disappearance, which allegedly occurred in 1997.

103. The majority of the 21 cases of disappearance reported in the past occurred between 1985 and 1992 and concerned persons who were reportedly arrested by members of the Criminal Investigation Service of the National Police. The disappearances occurred in Quito, Guayaquil and Esmeraldas. In three cases the victims were children.

104. The newly-reported case concerns a Colombian citizen who is said to have been detained by members of the army, in Portoviejo City, under an arrest warrant on charges of arms-trafficking, and to have subsequently disappeared.

105. During the period under review, the Government of Ecuador provided information to the Working Group on the investigations carried out by the Government into another case of a Colombian citizen who disappeared in Quito in June 1997. According to the Government, its investigations had revealed that the missing person did not have a criminal record and had not left or entered the country between 1992 and 1997; however, his whereabouts were still unknown and the Government was continuing its investigations.


Egypt

106. During the period under review, one new case of disappearance, which occurred in 1998, was transmitted to the Government of Egypt under the urgent action procedure. This case was subsequently clarified when the source reported that the person concerned had been released from detention. During the same period, the Working Group retransmitted one case to the Government, updated with new information from the source.

107. Of the 20 cases of disappearance reported to the Working Group, eight have been clarified. Of the 12 outstanding cases, the majority allegedly occurred between 1988 and 1994. The victims included alleged sympathizers of Islamic militant groups, students, a trader, a doctor and three citizens of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The renewal of the state of emergency during this period, which reportedly gave free rein to the security forces, without supervision or accountability, is said to have been an aggravating factor in the disappearances. Two other reported cases concern Egyptian citizens arrested in 1995 and 1996, respectively, by members of the State Security Investigation Department. One of the persons concerned was reportedly arrested at his home in Abu Qeraas, south of Cairo, and the second at his shop in Bani Sueif, south of Cairo.

108. The newly-reported case concerned a farmer who was arrested in Mallawi together with a lawyer. He was allegedly detained at the police station in Mallawi before being transferred to another detention centre.

109. During the period under review, the Government provided information to the Group on 13 cases of disappearance. In one case, it confirmed information provided by the source that the person had been released. In two other cases, it stated that further endeavours to trace the persons had failed and that no additional information was available, but that the authorities are continuing their investigations. In 10 other cases, involving three Libyan nationals, the Government reported that the security authorities had made every endeavour to trace the missing persons and had sent circulars to the air and sea ports and land border posts. The Government further indicated that neither security nor legal measures had been taken against those persons. Finally, the Government assured the Group that no efforts would be spared to find the missing persons and that the Government would keep the Group informed of any new information.


El Salvador

110. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of El Salvador.

111. The majority of the 2,661 reported cases occurred between 1980 and 1983, in the context of the armed conflict between the Government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). Many victims disappeared following arrest by uniformed soldiers or uniformed police, or abduction in death-squad-style operations carried out by armed men in civilian clothing, reportedly linked to the army or to the security forces. Abductions by armed men in civilian clothing were, in some cases, subsequently recognized as detentions, which raised allegations of links with the security forces.

112. A number of non-governmental organizations continued to address themselves to the Working Group with regard to their ongoing quest to have the fate of the persons who disappeared in El Salvador brought to light. In this connection, it was reported that little had been done to clarify outstanding cases of disappearance in accordance with the Salvadoran State’s international obligation to have complaints investigated thoroughly and impartially, in accordance with article 13 of the Declaration. Concern was expressed regarding the pending cases of enforced disappearance. Reference was made to the Amnesty Law adopted in 1993, only five days after the publication of the report of the Truth Commission, and the interruption of all investigations of the cases thereafter by the tribunals. Two legal recourses on the unconstitutionality of the Amnesty Law had not had any positive results so far.

113. It was also said that the efforts of a Salvadoran NGO to find the whereabouts of 520 missing children, some of whom were on the Working Group’s list of disappeared, had encountered non-cooperation from the armed forces and other State institutions, a lack of political will on the part of the Government to resolve problems relating to the identity of children who had been found and a delay in justice in cases submitted to the tribunals. In spite of that, 98 children had been found by this private organization and reunited with their families in 10 different countries. The Working Group continued to receive allegations concerning the deficiencies of the criminal investigation system.

114. During the period under review, the Government of El Salvador replied to the allegations of non-compliance with provisions of the Declaration made by non-governmental organizations. It reported that the crime of the enforced disappearance of persons had been included in the new Salvadoran Penal Code, in articles 364 to 366, under the chapter entitled “Crimes against humanity”. The amendment of the penal law, as well as the creation of the National Civil Police and the establishment of the National Council for Human Rights, had been carried out within the framework of the Peace Agreement signed in 1992 between the Government of El Salvador and the FMLN.

115. The Government also informed the Working Group that it had reactivated the investigation into the outstanding cases of disappearance, beginning with those that occurred between 1980 and 1983. Lastly, the Government reiterated its willingness to cooperate with the investigations being carried out by the NGO Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niños y Niñas Desaparecidos into the disappearance of children.


Equatorial Guinea

116. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Equatorial Guinea.

117. The three previously reported cases of disappearance concern members of political opposition parties who were reportedly arrested in Malabo on 9 and 10 August 1993. The police authorities, however, reportedly refused to disclose any information on their whereabouts.

118. Despite several reminders, no information has ever been received by the Working Group from the Government on the three outstanding cases. The Working Group is, therefore, still unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared persons.


Eritrea

119. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted, for the first time, 34 cases of disappearance, which occurred in 1998 and were sent under the urgent action procedure.

120. The cases, which allegedly occurred on 23 August 1998, concern 34 Ethiopian nationals who were reported to have been arrested by the Eritrean police in front of the Ethiopian embassy in Asmara.

121. During the period under review, no information has been received by the Working Group from the Government concerning the cases. The Working Group is, therefore, unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared persons.


Ethiopia

122. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted five newly-reported cases of disappearance to the Government of Ethiopia, two of which allegedly occurred in 1998 and were sent under the urgent action procedure. During the same period, the Working Group retransmitted three cases updated with new information from the source.

123. The majority of the 110 cases of disappearance reported to the Working Group occurred between 1991 and 1996 under the transitional Government, and concerned members of the Oromo ethnic group suspected of participating in the Oromo Liberation Front who were arrested in Addis Ababa or disappeared from the Huso military detention camp in western Ethiopia. Other cases concerned members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (a political party) who disappeared in Region Five in eastern Ethiopia, also known as the Ogaden, an area reportedly inhabited by ethnic Somalis and in which there were reports of cases which occurred between 1974 and 1992 after the military Government took power and concerned mainly, although not exclusively, high-ranking officials of Emperor Haile Selassie's Government and members of the Oromo ethnic group, in particular those believed to be involved with the Oromo Liberation Front, or persons accused of involvement with opposition political groups, including the Ethiopian Socialist Movement. One case, which occurred in 1996, concerned an Ethiopian refugee in Djibouti who was reportedly arrested at a refugee camp in Djibouti by members of the Djibouti police and handed over to the Ethiopian authorities.

124. Of the five newly-reported cases, which allegedly occurred between 1995 and 1998, one concerned a former politician during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie. Two other cases concerned persons who were active in the OLF, during its legal participation in the transitional Government. One other case concerned a person who had been allegedly arrested at the train station in Dire Dawa and then taken to Dire Dawa prison.

125. During the period under review, the Government provided information on a case reported previously to the Working Group and subsequently clarified. The Government reported that the person concerned was currently detained in Addis Ababa for alleged incitement to crime.


Greece

126. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Greece.

127. Two of the outstanding cases were transmitted to the Government in 1993 and concern Albanian cousins who were reportedly taken by the police in Zagora the same year. The third case concerns a Swiss citizen who was reportedly travelling from Greece to Italy in 1995 on a Greek ship and who was denied entry into Italy and returned to Greece on the same ship.

128. In the past, the Government provided information to the Working Group on all three of the outstanding cases. With regard to the two Albanian cousins, the Government reported that, on the night of their disappearance, they were at a hostel together with other illegal immigrants. The Government provided details of its investigation, which it said was continuing. In connection with the case of the Swiss citizen, the Government reported that in the past, the subject had twice been denied entry into Greece and had been expelled from the country on several occasions for involvement in international criminal activity. The Government stated that the Italian authorities had returned him to Greece on the Greek ferry, but that no official exit of the subject from the ship had been recorded and that he might have gone ashore before a passenger disembarkation control took place. The Government further reported that the competent authorities were conducting an investigation and any results of their search would be communicated to the source and the subject's family.

129. During the period under review, no new information was received from the Government with regard to the outstanding cases. The Group is, therefore, still unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared persons.


Guatemala

130. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Guatemala.

131. Concerned about the number of disappearances in Guatemala, the Working Group undertook a visit to that country in 1987. The report on that mission (E/CN.4/1988/19/Add.1) included a recommendation that efforts should be made to improve the functioning of habeas corpus procedures, to protect the life of witnesses, as well as of individuals and members of organizations reporting cases, and to adopt effective measures to prevent and clarify disappearances.

132. The majority of the 3,151 reported cases of disappearance in Guatemala occurred between 1979 and 1986, mainly under the military regime and in the context of the Government's fight against the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG). The cases have been described in detail in the Group’s previous reports. On 29 December 1996, the Government of Guatemala and the URNG signed, in Guatemala City, the Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace, thus completing the negotiating process between the two parties. Following the signing of the Agreement, there has been a trend towards greater respect for human rights. However, the ratification by the Congress of the Republic, on 12 December 1996, of the National Reconciliation Act was criticized by some as an amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights violations, including disappearances.

133. During the period under review, the Government provided information on 39 individual cases; in 24 cases it reported that the missing persons had died and submitted copies of their death certificates or certificates of presumption of death, and in 14 cases that the persons concerned had been found living at liberty, some of them after having been released from detention. One of the 39 cases continued under investigation by the Government.


Guinea

134. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Guinea.

135. The majority of the 28 reported cases in Guinea occurred in 1984 and 1985 in the context of a coup d'état. The Working Group has received no reports of disappearances occurring in Guinea after 1985.

136. During the period under review, no new information was received from the Government with respect to the outstanding cases. The Working Group is, therefore, unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared persons.


Haiti

137. During the period under review, no new cases of disappearance were transmitted by the Working Group to the Government of Haiti.

138. The majority of the 48 reported cases of disappearance occurred in three waves during the periods 1981-1985, 1986-1990 and 1991-1993. Most of the cases which occurred during the first period concerned members or supporters of the Haitian Christian Democrat Party who were allegedly arrested by members of the armed forces or by the Tonton Macoutes. The cases that occurred during the second period concerned persons who were reportedly arrested by armed men in civilian clothes, members of the Anti-Gang and Investigation Service, and by the police. The last wave of cases took place in the aftermath of the coup d'état which ousted elected President Aristide.

139. During the period under review, no new information was received from the Government with respect to the outstanding cases. The Working Group is, therefore, unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared persons.


Honduras

140. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted a newly-reported case of disappearance to the Government of Honduras. It concerns a Jesuit priest who was allegedly captured by the army in 1983 after entering the country from Nicaragua with a guerrilla column.

141. The majority of the 198 cases of enforced disappearance reported to the Working Group occurred between 1981 and 1984, a period during which members of Battalion 3-16 of the armed forces and heavily armed plain-clothes men seized people perceived as ideological enemies, at their homes or on the street, and took them to clandestine detention centres. The systematic practice of disappearance ended in 1984, although sporadic cases continued to occur.

142. The Working Group called to the Government's attention the harassment to which leaders of the non-governmental organizations, the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH), were being subjected, particularly Ms. Liduvina Hernández, Ms. Bertha Olivia de Nativi and Mr. Ramón Custodio. According to information received, the harassment was linked to their intervention in cases of enforced disappearance.

143. During the period under review, the Working Group received information from non-governmental organizations concerning the implementation in Honduras of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The Working Group was informed that, although efforts have been made to prosecute some military officers responsible for past cases of disappearance, until now only one of them was summoned by a court of justice to answer for the fate of disappeared persons. However, on 22 February 1998, the First Criminal Court in Tegucigalpa ruled in favour of applying amnesty laws to these persons. It was said that the issue of impunity is manifested in the failure to bring to justice members of the armed forces charged with past disappearances, despite the issuing of arrest warrants against them. It was added that amnesty laws approved between 1987 and 1991 are being interpreted as precluding the possibility of charging those responsible.

144. It was also pointed out that the authorities are thus failing to fulfil their obligations under article 13 of the Declaration to conduct thorough and impartial investigations into all cases of enforced disappearance. Lastly, concerns were expressed for the security of human rights defenders who were the target of attacks and threats as a result of their work on behalf of victims of human rights violations. It was also reported that applications for habeas corpus have not been dealt with as promptly as required by the Constitution and unfailingly have produced no results whatsoever.

145. During the period under review, no information was received from the Government of Honduras.


India

146. During the period under review, the Working Group transmitted 33 newly-reported cases of disappearance to the Government of India, 14 of which reportedly occurred in 1998. Five cases were sent under the urgent action procedure. During the same period, the Working Group clarified three cases on the basis of information previously received from the Government, on which no objection was received from the source; in all three cases, the persons concerned had been arrested or summoned for interrogation and released on bail. Regarding the newly-reported cases transmitted by the Working Group on 15 December 1998, in accordance with its methods of work, it must be understood that the Government could not respond prior to the adoption of the present report.

147. The majority of the 305 cases transmitted to the Government of India occurred between 1983 and 1995, in the context of ethnic and religious disturbances in the Punjab and Kashmir regions. The disappearances in both regions were primarily attributable to the police authorities, the army and paramilitary groups acting in conjunction with, or with the acquiescence of, the armed forces. In Kashmir, numerous persons are said to have disappeared after armed encounters with security forces. The disappearances were alleged to have been the result of a number of factors related to the wide powers granted to the security forces under emergency legislation, in particular the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act and the Public Security Act. In addition to allowing preventive detention, these laws reportedly allowed prolonged detention without the many other normal safeguards available under the criminal codes. The victims have included shopkeepers, a lawyer who was reportedly well known for defending Sikhs detained in Punjab, journalists, human rights activists, students and others.

148. The majority of the newly-reported cases of disappearance occurred in Kashmir; 13 occurred in the province of Assam. Two new cases were reported from Manipur, one of which relates to a 15-year-old schoolboy who is alleged to have been arrested at his home by personnel of the 17th Rajputana Rifles.

149. During the period under review, information concerning developments in India having an influence on the phenomenon of disappearance and the implementation of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances were received from non-governmental organizations.

150. Serious concern was expressed to the Group about a new and alarming trend accompanying recent cases of disappearance following arrests or abductions occurring in areas of armed conflict in India. Reportedly, the abduction on 6 September 1995 of the human rights activist, Jaswant Singh Khalra, in Amritsar, and his subsequent disappearance, is typical of the practice of Indian security forces, whereby lawyers, journalists and human rights activists have been made to disappear to instill fear among the people.

151. Information was also received on laws issued throughout the 1980s, which, in addition to the “cash bounty system”, are said to give security forces shoot-to-kill powers, broad detention powers and immunity from prosecution. Particular concern has been expressed with regard to the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), which, it is said, continues to be applied, despite the announcement by the Government of India, in May 1995, that it had not been renewed.

152. It has also been alleged that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), established by the Government, has no power to investigate human rights violations directly, no jurisdiction over violations committed by the security and military forces, and no power to prosecute violators or compensate victims. Moreover, it is said that NHRC is only allowed to handle those killings that allegedly occurred within the year.

153. In Manipur, a state in the north-eastern region of India, it has been alleged that there is routine denial of a range of human rights, particularly those of a growing number of children in the context of armed conflict, where impunity is said to prevail. Grave concern has been expressed about attempts by the armed forces to prevent judicial inquiries ordered by the State government into the disappearance of a 15-year-old schoolboy, Yumlembam Sanamacha, who was reportedly arrested by members of the 17th Rajaputana Rifles on 12 February 1998. Allegedly, in many cases of disappearance, the army has taken shelter behind the Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act of 1958, which, it is said, confers on the armed forces broadly defined shoot-to-kill powers and provides them with virtual immunity from prosecution.

154. During the period under review, the Government also provided information on eight individual cases of reported disappearance, mostly from Jammu and Kashmir and Assam. With regard to four cases, the Government replied that the persons had been arrested or summoned for interrogation and subsequently released or held in judicial custody. In two other cases, the Government replied that the persons were residing at home and that one of them had never been apprehended. In a further case, the Government replied that, following a stay of arrest ordered by the High Court, the person had been granted anticipatory bail. In one other case, the Government replied that a habeas corpus petition was at present pending before the Guwahati High Court. In the case of the disappearance of the 15-year-old schoolboy from Manipur, the Government replied that he had been apprehended by the security forces during a search operation on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization, the United National Liberation Front, and had managed to escape when the security forces, who were taking him to be handed over to the police, had been attacked by members of “Meira Peibis”, a women’s organization, seeking to effect the release of the persons apprehended. The Government also stated that a case had been filed with the Imphal Bench of Guwahati High Court regarding the alleged disappearance and that a counter affidavit had been filed by the Army Court.

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