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UN concerned over enforced disappearences in Pakistan

The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances [official website] on Thursday welcomed [press release] Pakistan's "declared will" to address the issue of enforced disappearances [JURIST news archive] in the country but concluded that "serious challenges remain" [report]. Specifically, the Working Group, made up of independent experts, acknowledged the security challenges facing the Pakistan government but used the UN's 1992 Declaration for the Protection of All Persons Against Enforced Disappearances [text] to stress that "no circumstances whatsoever, whether a threat of war, a state of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked to justify enforced disappearances." Similarly, the Working Group commended the judiciary on its recent commitment to the problem of enforced disappearances, as well as its tracking of missing persons. Again, however, the experts called on the government to fulfill its duty to investigate all allegations of these disappearances and prosecute those responsible.

Enforced disappearances remain prevalent despite the UN's 1992 Declaration. In August Amnesty International (AI) urged authorities in the former Yugoslavia to investigate [JURIST report] the enforced disappearances of 14,000 people who are still unaccounted for since the civil war of the 1990s. Also that month the Working Group urged Chile to uphold justice [JURIST report] and ensure that those who have been convicted of enforced disappearances in the country serve their sentences. In July AI declared that Malian soldiers loyal to the country's coup leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, had been committing human rights violations [JURIST report], including torture, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. In March UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] cited enforced disappearances [JURIST report] as one of the most heinous crimes during her opening statement to the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, particularly noting the crime's effects on women and children. Also in March, the Working Group expressed concern in Mexico [JURIST report] after finding a "chronic pattern of impunity demonstrated by the absence of effective investigations in cases of enforced disappearances" within the country.

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