The charter of International Criminal Court defines enforced disappearance of persons as the "arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organisation, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons."
    
"The changing situation of enforced disappearances requires new strategies to counter this crime," said the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
    
The experts this year reviewed cases of disappearances from Bahrain, Belarus, Colombia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria and Yemen among others.
        
Terming the cases as "not an accident, but rather a premeditated crime that warrants punishment," Chair-Rapporteur Olivier de Frouville added, "We need to find new strategies to eliminate the crime of enforced disappearance and find the truth about all such cases. It is our responsibility."
    
The experts called for prompt identification and qualification of cases of enforced disappearances to hold the perpetrators accountable and emphasised on expanding the use of forensic expertise and DNA testing during investigations.
    
Established in 1980 by the UN Commission on Human Rights, the group held its 100th session this past week.
    
It has been mandated to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared people and also seeks to establish a channel of communication between the families of victims and their governments.
    
To mark the session, an event was organised during which the experts on the group emphasised on the importance of preserving collective and individual memories.
    
Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic, who also addressed the event, focussed on the group's role in helping families seeking assistance in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives.
    
Recalling his experience of the Balkans War, Simonovic said that enforced disappearances remain an open wound for relatives that are still waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones.
    
During its current session, the experts examined 17 reported cases of enforced disappearances that have occurred in the last six months as well as over 400 newly reported or existing cases.

(Agencies)

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