[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human RightsNavi Pillay [official website] on Monday cited enforced disappearances as one of the most heinous crimes during her opening statement [text] to the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. Pillay complimented the committee for focusing part of discussions on the effects that enforced disappearances have on women and children and expressed concern that women who are victims of enforced disappearance may become more vulnerable to sexual and violent assaults. She reiterated her support for the committee’s focus on combating enforced disappearances by stating she and her staff will continue to provide committee members with “substantive and technical support.” Pillay also spoke of the need to strengthen the treaty body by stating:
The treaty body system has had significant influence on the enjoyment of human rights across the globe, and I believe that this influence is increasing. At the same time, the system has also grown exponentially in recent years, today comprising 10 treaty bodies and 172 experts. While this growth holds great potential, it has not been matched with a commensurate increase in the human and financial resources that are indispensable for adequately supporting the system.
Pillay said she hoped the end result would be a treaty system that would work both “efficiently and effectively.”
The International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance [text] was signed [JURIST report] in 2007 by at least 57 countries, but has not been ratified by the required 20 to take effect. In August the UN called for all states to end [JURIST report] the “heinous crime” of enforced or involuntary disappearances. Enforced disappearances refers to the practice of placing people in secret detentions for weeks or months without ever being brought before a judge. Some victims of the practice say they were tortured during their detainment.