Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
Communications, cases examined, observations, and other activities conducted by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances*
105th session (2 – 6 March 2015)
The present document reflects the communications and cases examined and other activities carried out by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances at its 105th session, held at the invitation of the Government in Buenos Aires, from 2 to 6 March 2015, on the occasion of its thirty-fifth anniversary.
Between its 104th and 105th sessions, the Working Group transmitted 92 cases under its urgent action procedure to Bangladesh (1), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1), Egypt (41), the Gambia (7), Mexico (1), Oman (1), Pakistan (35) and the United Arab Emirates (5).
At its 105th session, the Working Group decided to transmit 95 newly reported cases of enforced disappearance to 15 States. The Working Group also clarified 19 cases in Algeria (1), Bahrain (1), Egypt (2), the Gambia (3), Oman (1), Pakistan (5), Saudi Arabia (1), Sri Lanka (1), the Syrian Arab Republic (1), Turkey (1), the United Arab Emirates (1) and Uruguay (1). Four cases were clarified on the basis of information provided by the Governments and 15 on the basis of information provided by sources.
Between its 104th and 105th sessions, the Working Group, following its prompt intervention procedure, transmitted, jointly with other special procedure mechanisms, six communications, to Colombia (1), Mexico (2), the Russian Federation (1) and Sri Lanka (2). The Working Group also transmitted, jointly with other special procedure mechanisms, 14 urgent appeals and 3 other letters concerning persons who had been arrested, detained, abducted or otherwise deprived of their liberty or who had been forcibly disappeared or were at risk of disappearance in Burundi (1), China (2), Guatemala (other letter), India (other letter), Maldives (1), Mexico (2), Oman (1), Rwanda (1), Spain (other letter), the Sudan (1), the Syrian Arab Republic (1), Turkey (1), the United Arab Emirates (2) and Ukraine (1).
At its 105th session, the Working Group reviewed four general allegations, concerning Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador and Pakistan.
III. Other activities
At its 105th session, the Working Group adopted the thematic study on enforced disappearance and economic, social and cultural rights.
IV. Information concerning enforced or involuntary disappearances in States reviewed by the Working Group during the session
Information from the Government
On 9 September 2014, the Government provided information on one outstanding case.
The Working Group transmitted 18 cases to the Government, concerning:
(a) Mr. Mohamed Sadaoui, allegedly arrested on 7 February 1995 by the Communal Guard in Messelmoune, Tipaza;
(b) Mr. Abdelmadjid Chibane, allegedly arrested on 25 April 1994 by plain-clothed police officers in Oum El Bouaghi;
(c) Mr. Djamel Abdenasser Hadri, allegedly arrested on 24 October 1994 by the secret service of the daïra of Sig, Mascara;
(d) Mr. Ali Bouchala, allegedly arrested on 16 July 1994 by the gendarmerie in Taskiout, Béjaïa;
(e) Mr. Belkheir Belaouinat, allegedly abducted on 6 June 1995 by the gendarmerie in Sig, Mascara;
(f) Mr. Amar Boughecha, allegedly abducted on 29 April 1994 by the military and the gendarmerie in Jijel;
(g) Mr. Khatir Haimed, allegedly abducted in March 1991 by the military in Rebaia, Médéa;
(h) A person under the age of 18, allegedly last seen on 25 March 1980 on the road from Médéa to Algiers;
(i) Mr. Ahcène Zeraoulia, allegedly arrested on 22 August 1996 by the military and communal guards in Emir Abdelkader, Jijel;
(j) Mr. Mahmoud Bendadou, allegedly abducted on 17 August 1994 by police and military officers in the Quartier Koutiten, Médéa;
(k) Mr. Sebti Amdjoudj, allegedly abducted on 16 November 1994 by police officers in Ain El Kercha, Oum El Bouaghi;
(l) Mr. Sadek Benarab, allegedly arrested on 26 August 1994 by the judicial police in the Souk Naamane, Oum El Bouaghi;
(n) Mr. Mohamed Habib, allegedly arrested on 13 December 1994 by military officers in Medjeber, daïra de Medjeber, Médéa;
(o) Mr. Rabah Recham, allegedly disappeared from the military barrack of Bilda in December 1995;
(p) Mr. Mokrane Si Nacer, allegedly arrested on 16 June 1994 by the gendarmerie in Mechta Sidi Nacer, Sétif;
(q) Mr. Abdelaziz Tamaoucht, allegedly arrested on 31 March 1994 by military officers on the road from Amroussa to Chreaa (Bouinane);
(r) Mr. Mounir Bouchaib, allegedly arrested by armed military, gendarmes and police during the night between 19 and 20 February 1995 in Kouba, Algiers.
Clarification based on the information from sources
Sources provided information on 21 outstanding cases. On the basis of the information received, the Working Group decided to clarify one case.
Information from the Government
On 3 November 2014, the Government provided information on two outstanding cases.
Information from sources
On 25 November 2014, a source provided information on one outstanding case.
Information from the Government
On 21 October 2014, the Government transmitted information concerning one outstanding case.
On 18 November 2014, the Government responded to a general allegation sent on 23 September 2014 concerning an alleged pattern of short-time disappearance. In its communications, the Government provided information on the arrest, prosecution and trials with regard to individual cases mentioned in the general allegation (for the reply of the Government, see annex I).
On the basis of the information provided by the Government, the Working Group decided to clarify one outstanding case following the expiration of the period prescribed by the six-month rule (see A/HRC/WGEID/103/1, para. 38).
The Working Group thanks the Government for its replies. It would appreciate receiving additional information on the specific steps taken by the Government to prevent and terminate cases of enforced disappearance and on the measures taken to ensure that relatives of persons deprived of their liberty are informed accurately and promptly on their detention, in accordance with article 10 (2) of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
On 5 March 2015, the Working Group transmitted one case to the Government, concerning Mr. Keithellakpam Nabachandra, allegedly arrested on 11 February 2015 in Dhaka by Indian intelligence investigators and Bangladeshi plain-clothed police. In accordance with the methods of work of the Working Group, the Government of India also received a copy of the case.
The Working Group transmitted three cases to the Government, concerning Mr. Mohammad Tayyab Pramanik, Mr. Mohammad Kamal Hossain Patwary and Mr. Mohammad Ibrahim Khalil, allegedly abducted by the Rapid Action Battalion on 19 May 2013 in the village of Mohish Bhanga.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
On 19 November 2014, the Working Group issued, jointly with three other special procedures mechanisms, a press release regarding the possible imminent release of Mr. Milorad Trbic, who was convicted in 2009 by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina of having committed genocide in Srebrenica and sentenced to 30 years in prison. It noted that the interests of justice requires that people convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious crimes, including torture and enforced disappearances, whose guilt is not in question, should not be released pending retrial and that punishment should be consistent with the gravity of the offence.
The Working Group reminds the Government that, according to the Declaration, persons accused of committing enforced disappearances should be prosecuted, tried and, if found guilty, punished. Given the gravity of the crime, all guarantees should be applied so as not to affect the right to justice.
Information from the Government
On 16 September 2014, the Government transmitted a communication regarding 13 outstanding cases.
On 2 October 2014, the Working Group transmitted, jointly with another special procedure mechanism, an urgent appeal to the Government concerning allegations that, since mid-July 2014, up to 40 bodies had been seen floating in Lake Rweru and in the Kagera River flowing from Rwanda. A similar urgent appeal was sent to the Government of Rwanda.
The Working Group calls upon the Government to investigate those allegations fully and requests that it be informed of the results thereon.
Information from sources
A source provided information on one outstanding case.
On 23 October 2014, the Working Group transmitted, jointly with two other special procedures mechanisms, an urgent appeal to the Government concerning the alleged arbitrary and incommunicado detention and disappearance of the human rights defender Ms. Liu Xizhen. Allegedly, she has been arrested in connection with her peaceful work in defence of human rights and has been detained in an unofficial detention centre in Xinyu City, Jiangxi Province.
On 27 January 2015, the Working Group transmitted, jointly with one other special procedures mechanism, an urgent appeal to the Government concerning the alleged arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention and disappearance of Huang Kaiping, Xia Lin, He Zhengjun, Liu Jianshu, Guo Yushan, Ms. Kou Yanding and Ms. Su Changlan, reportedly owing to their human rights work.
The Working Group reiterates articles 2 and 10 of the Declaration, which provide that “no State shall practise, permit or tolerate enforced disappearances”, and that “accurate information on the detention of [any person] and their place or places of detention […] shall be made promptly available to[, inter alia,] their family members [and] their counsel”.
Information from sources
On 10 December 2014, a source provided information on 12 outstanding cases.
On 30 March 2015, the Working Group transmitted information received from credible sources concerning obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Declaration.
According to the source, in Buenaventura, several largely Afro-Colombian neighbourhoods are dominated by powerful paramilitary successor groups. It is alleged that they are responsible for the enforced disappearance of hundreds of residents in recent years. Reportedly, the groups dismember the victims in casas de pique (“chop-up houses”) and dump the body parts in the bay or along its mangrove-covered shores, or bury them in hidden graves. Reportedly, in March 2014, criminal investigators found bloodstains in two suspected casas de pique. From 2010 to 2013, more than 150 people were abducted by officials in Buenaventura – twice as many as in any other municipality in Colombia. According to the source, the actual number could be significantly higher given that the fear of reprisals leads to underreporting.
According to the information received, since January 2012, more than 250 alleged members of a paramilitary successor group have been arrested, and prosecutors have opened more than 2,000 investigations into cases of enforced disappearance and forced displacement. None of them, however, has led to a conviction. The source alleged that the authorities had failed to protect the population from the paramilitary successor group and that some members of the police maintain contact with it. This has deeply undermined trust in the authorities and led to a pervasive sense of defencelessness in the face of the constant abuses by the groups.
Prompt intervention letter
On 21 October 2014, the Working Group transmitted, jointly with another special procedure mechanism, a prompt intervention letter to the Government concerning the situation of Ms. Yanette Bautista, the Director of Nydia Erika Bautista Foundation, a non-governmental organization that works to protect the rights of victims of enforced disappearance.
On 29 September 2014, the Working Group issued, jointly with 11 other special procedures mechanisms, an open letter and a press release in which it expressed concern at the possible adoption by the Congress of the Republic of a proposal that would unjustifiably extend the jurisdiction of military and police courts to offences that should come under the jurisdiction of ordinary courts. The adoption of the proposed law would represent a significant step backwards in the State’s efforts to comply with its international human rights and humanitarian law obligations.
Information from the Government
On 5 September 2014 and on 26 January 2015, the Government provided information on three outstanding cases.
On 13 November 2014, the Government responded to a prompt intervention letter transmitted on 21 October 2014. In its reply, the Government stated that Ms. Bautista was a beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and of physical security measures by Unidad Nacional de Protección, a national protection unit. Ms. Bautista was also a member of the Commission for the Search of Missing Persons and her case had been discussed during its session on 9 September 2014. At that meeting, it had been agreed that information should be requested from the General Prosecutor’s Office about the existence of a criminal investigation and the actions taken.
The Working Group recalls article 16 of the Declaration, which states that all persons alleged to have committed an act of an enforced disappearance “shall be tried only by the competent ordinary courts in each State, and not by any other special tribunal, in particular military courts”.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
The Working Group transmitted four cases to the Government, concerning Mr. Kim Hyun Chul, Mr. Kim Hyun II, Ms. Kim Hyun Ran and Mr. Kim II Hyun, all allegedly last seen in January 2011 at the Ranam-guyok security agency in Chongjin, North Hamkyung Province.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
On 18 December 2014, the Working Group, following its urgent action procedure, transmitted a case to the Government concerning Mr. Anders Kalemwanda Ilunga, allegedly arrested early in October 2014 by agents of the National Intelligence Agency in Kinshasa. In accordance with the methods of work of the Working Group, the Government of Belgium was also provided with a copy of the case.
On 26 March 2015, the Working Group transmitted information received from credible sources concerning obstacles encountered in the implementation of the Declaration.
The Working Group received reports indicating that an operation named “Likofi” was launched on 15 November 2013 by the Minister of the Interior, Security, Decentralization and Customary Affairs with the aim to eradicate kulunas (delinquent gang members) in Kinshasa. During the operation, conducted from November 2013 to February 2014, uniformed and hooded police officers allegedly raided the homes of suspected kulunas at night and arrested them at gunpoint, reportedly without producing an arrest warrant.
According to the information received, about 350 police officers, including officers from the Congolese National Police, the National Response Legion and the Mobile Intervention Group, participated in the operation. They allegedly committed widespread human rights violations, including enforced disappearances. The victims allegedly also included persons under the age of 18 and persons accused of being members of local gangs, often as an act of revenge for a conflict of a private nature.
The sources documented that most of the enforced disappearances took place between late November 2013 and February 2014. This was reportedly due to a strategy changed in December 2013, after concerns were raised by the United Nations and local human rights organizations with regard to summary executions in the previous weeks. According to the information received, instead of being executed publicly, suspected kulunas were taken to an unknown location in the outskirts of Kinshasa, where some were allegedly later killed secretly and their bodies thrown into the river Congo or buried in mass graves. More than 30 individuals, including four boys under the age of 18, were disappeared in the context of operation Likofi.
The family members of the disappeared persons attempted to determine the fate or whereabouts of their relatives, by visiting prisons, detention centres, morgues and hospitals throughout Kinshasa, but in vain. According to the sources, their requests for information from government authorities have been largely ignored. Several relatives filed complaints with the military prosecutor, which were mostly unsuccessful. Journalists, doctors, morgue employees, family members of the victims and human rights activists were warned by the police or other State agents not to disseminate information on the violations committed during the operation.Some relatives of disappeared persons therefore did not file any complaint owing to their fears of reprisal.
A commission of inquiry composed of police officers was established in September 2014 to investigate alleged cases of abuse. The commission has a mandate to identify the location of burial sites of executed persons, to provide information on the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared, to keep the families of victims informed and to make recommendations for legal action against the perpetrators of abuse. The commission has no judicial power and allegedly lacks impartiality, since it consists only of members of the police force, the very institution responsible for the alleged abuse and the threats against family members and witnesses of alleged violations. It has been reported that those presumed to be responsible for the operation are well known, but no proceedings have been initiated against them.
Information from the Government
On 2 and on 7 October 2014, the Government provided information on two outstanding cases.
The Working Group transmitted the following 41 cases to the Government under its urgent action procedure:
(a) On 25 September 2014, the case of Mr. Amr Mahmoud Othman Mahmoud, allegedly arrested by masked security forces on 25 August 2014, in Bakoos, Alexandria;
(b) On 23 October 2014, the case of Mr. Ali Mohamed Abdulhamid, allegedly abducted by members of the National Security Agency on 24 September 2014 in 6th of October City (Cairo);
(c) On 31 October 2014, the case of Ms. Aliaa Tarek Mohamed El-Sayed, allegedly arrested by security forces on 20 October 2014 in front of her university in Cairo;
(d) On 8 November 2014, the case of Mr. Asad Shehata Abdou Shehata, allegedly arrested by the police on 28 November 2014 onHamza Al Batran street, Haram District;
(e) On 21 November 2014, the case of Mr. Yasser Ahmed Ahmed Abu Eita, who was allegedly arrested by police officers and soldiers on 2 November 2014 in Damietta; and the case of Mr. Al Sayed Saad Al Deen Al Saadani and Mr. Samir Mostafa Ibrahim, who were, in the afternoon of 10 October 2014, allegedly abducted by police officers in the Al Mahala District;
(f) On 15 December 2014, Mr. Mahmoud Mohamed Youssef Abu Salma was allegedly arrested by police and military officers on 7 November 2014 in Mataria, Cairo;
(g) On 29 December 2014, the case of Mr. Abdelrahman Kamal Omar Mahmoud, allegedly arrested by security forces on 22 September 2014 in Giza;
(h) On 3 January 2015, the case of Mr. Mahmoud Nafee Ashour, allegedly arrested by the police on 28 January 2015 in Mansoura City;
(i) On 7 January 2015, the case of Mr. Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed Abdullah, allegedly arrested by security forces on 1 January 2015 at Cairo airport;
(j) On 13 January 2015, the case of Mr. Abdul Rahman Sherif Sayed Mohamed Abdul Wahab, allegedly last seen on 6 January 2015 at Cairo airport;
(k) On 23 January 2015, the case of Mr. Abdullah Abdulhaleem Abdulhaleem Zalat, allegedly abducted by Homeland Security agents on 16 January 2015 in Tanta, Gharbiyah Governorate;
(l) On 10 February 2015, the cases of Mr. Magdy Khidr Abdul Ghaffar Al Qommy and Mr. Ahmed Abdul Kareem Mohamed Bassiuony Abdul Kareem, reportedly arrested by the police on 30 January 2015 in Gharbiyah Governorate; the case of a person under the age of 18, allegedly arrested by security forces on 26 January 2015 in Shubra; the case of a person under the age of 18, allegedly last seen on 28 January 2015 in Kafr Al Zayat; the case of Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Fathi Ali Ibrahim Al Mubarak, reportedly arrested by security forces on 31 January 2015 in Mansoura City; the cases of Mr. Belal Ashraf Abdul Hadi Al Dossouky and Mr. Ahmed Gomaa Shehata Abdul Raouf Baklawy, allegedly arrested by security forces on 31 January 2015 in Mansoura City; the case of Mr. Jalal Al Deen Mahmoud Mahmoud Jalal, allegedly last seen on 1 February 2015 in Mansoura 1 police station; the case of Mr. Abdul Rahman Ali Ahmed Ibrahim Gallady, allegedly arrested by security forces on 1 January 2015 in Badaway village, Mansoura city; the case of Mr. Mahmoud Nafee Ashour, allegedly arrested by the police on 28 January 2015 in Mansoura City;
(m) On 20 February 2015, the case of Mr. Ahmed Youssef Khalil Youssef Mohamed allegedly arrested by special forces on 21 January 2015 at Al Rammel train station in Alexandria; the case of Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Fahmy Al Wateedy, allegedly arrested by airport security police on 2 February 2015 at Borg Al Arab airport in Alexandria; the case of Mr. Rashad Aly Ahmed Berkawy, allegedly arrested by a plain-clothed man on 27 January 2015 in Ismailia Governorate; the case of Mr. Gamal Ali Abd Almoqtader Abd Al Razeq, allegedly arrested by plain-clothed armed security police forces on 21 January 2015 in Kafr Al-Sheikh; the case of a person under the age of 18, allegedly arrested by police officers on 3 February 2015 in Menyat Taher village, Dakahliyia Governorate; the case of a person under the age of 18, allegedly arrested by State security police forces on 8 February 2015 in Domyat Goverornate; the case of Mr. Salim Ezzat Salim Al Gohary, allegedly arrested by uniformed police officers on 4 January 2015 in Mahala, Kobra City; the case of Mr. Reda Radwan Morsi, allegedly arrested on 7 February 2015 by security officers in uniform and four plain-clothed individuals in Nasr City, Cairo; the case of an individual under 18 years of age, allegedly arrested by security forces on 31 January 2015 in al Hadra District; the case of Mr. Mahmoud Ibrahim Mohamed Abu Saeeda, allegedly arrested by special forces on 31 January 2015 in Sidi Bishr District, Alexandria Governorate; the case of Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud Keshta, allegedly arrested by security forces on 1 January 2015, at El Elw checkpoint, El Mahalla El Kubra City; the case of Mr. Walaa Ahmed Ali Ali El Gamasy, allegedly arrested by the police on 19 December 2014, in Bassyion, Gharbiyah Governorate; the case of an individual under 18 years of age, allegedly last seen on 2 January 2015 at the Mahala Police Station 2, Mahala Kobra District, Gharbiyah Governorate; the case of Mr. Emad Al Zoghby Atta Allah Sanad, allegedly arrested by the police on 27 January 2015 at a checkpoint in Mahallah, Al Kobra City; and the case of Mr. Hassan Mahmoud Abdul Hameed Bakeer, allegedly arrested by police forces on 16 February 2015 in Al Sadat City;
(n) On 2 March 2015, the case of Mr. El Sayed Abdu Allah El-Gharib Ali El-Mallawany, allegedly arrested by State Security Police on 15 January 2015 in Gharbiyah Province; the case of Mr. Abdu Allah Muhammed Abdu Allah Ahmed El Abeet, allegedly arrested on the road from El-Santa city in Gharbiyah to Kafr El-Zayat city on 14 February 2015; the case of Mr. Sameer Mohamed Abbass Al Heety, allegedly arrested in Gharbiya Governorate by State Security Police on 9 January 2015; and Mr. Muhammed Abdelsalam Ali El-Desouky, allegedly arrested by police officers on 29 January 2015, at a checkpoint on the highway between El Mahalla El Kubra city and El-Mansoura city.