UN experts deeply concerned by ’new practice’ of State-sponsored abductions
NEW YORK (18 October 2018) – The world is witnessing a new and very worrying practice of extraterritorial abductions by
States, a UN expert told the UN General Assembly today, highlighting the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Bernard Duhaime, Chair of the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, expressed outrage at the actions of States
who continue to resort to enforced disappearance. “Whether it is used to repress political dissent, combat organised
crime, or allegedly fight terrorism, when resorting to enforced disappearance States are actually perpetrating a crime
and an offence to human dignity,” he said.
“Now we are witnessing with outmost concern a new and very worrisome practice of the extraterritorial abductions of
individuals in foreign countries through undercover operations, as also highlighted in our latest annual report.
“These abductions occur with or without the acquiescence of the host state, and while in most cases the victims reappear
in detention after a short period, in other cases they remain disappeared – as in the recent shocking case of Saudi
journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” he said, reiterating a call for an independent international investigation into the events,
and the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators.
He said the Working Group had expressed on a number of occasions its concern in relation to so-called ‘short-term
disappearances’, increasingly used in recent years especially in the context of anti-terrorism operations. Mr. Bernard
Duhaime said often this is done “to extract evidence and finalise the investigation outside the protection of the law
and often resorting to coercion, if not torture”.
Mr. Duhaime highlighted the importance of ensuring effective investigation of enforced disappearances. An interim report
on standards and public policies for an effective investigation was presented by the Working Group to the Human Rights
Council, which will be followed by an in-depth study on the practical implementation of the obligation to investigate
The Working Group invited all States, as well as families of the disappeared, civil society, UN mechanisms or agencies
and other interested stakeholders to provide any relevant inputs that may contribute to the study.
Mr Duhaime urged all Member States to ratify, without delay, the International Convention for the Protection of All
Persons from Enforced Disappearance.