European Union Condemns the “Scourge” Of Enforced Disappearances at U.N. Convention; Notably Absent From Gathering, Guyana

The Real African|| By I.K. Cush 
Deputy Head of the European Delegation to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Ambassador Joanne Adamson, condemned the “scourge” of enforced disappearances around the world.
Addressing diplomats and activists at the 10th anniversary high-level meeting to commemorate the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance on February 17th, Ambassador Adamson commended “the dynamic work of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances” and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
Adamson explained that the Working Group has an indispensable role and the scale of that role is underlined by the fact that, during the last reporting period, the Group transmitted 766 new cases of enforced disappearance to 37 states, including Guyana.
The Guyana government refuses to cooperate with the Working group “in this vital work” and has resisted efforts by the Group to visit the country. Cognizant of the refusal of such countries to recognize the competence of the Working Group, Ambassador Adamson urged “all states to cooperate…including through support to country visits.”
Enforced Disappearance is a Crime Against Humanity
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in December, 2006. It came into force December, 2010.
The Convention, inter alia, obliges states to criminalize enforced disappearance and make it a punishable offence and provides that enforced disappearance constitutes a crime against humanity.
More significantly, the Convention expanded the definition of victims of enforced disappearance to include, as former U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon said, “anguished women and men desperately seeking any information, even if only a clue, that will lead them to their loved ones.” One such “anguished” woman is this Guyanese mother whose poignant plea for justice can be viewed below. Her son was abducted by Guyanese police in 1999. She hasn’t seen him since!

Under international law enforced disappearance means “the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing them from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.”
Hundreds of Guyanese citizens were killed and/or disappeared during the regime of Guyana’s ex-president, Bharratt Jagdeo; an “egregious violation of human rights and international law,” according to newly-appointed secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in his message to the high-level meeting.
The Guyana government’s stubborn refusal to recognize the competence of the U.N. Working Group deprives the victims, of Jagdeo’s crimes against humanity, of the truth as expounded in Article 24.2 of the Convention: ‘The victim has the right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and results of the investigation and the fate of the disappeared person.’
Guyana ought to take a leaf out of the book of Morocco. Morocco compensated its victims of enforced disappearances, strengthened its cooperation with, and provided requested information to, the U.N., and allowed the Working Group to meet with families of the disappeared.
Morocco’s level of cooperation with the U.N. is essential if, according to Ambassador Adamson, countries are serious about making “enforced disappearances a thing of the past.”

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