Remarks at a Meeting of the Third Committee on a Briefing by the Special Rapporteur on Enforced Disappearances

Lindsey Whitehead
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 18, 2018


Enforced disappearances are devastating to victims, their families, and entire societies.

The United States remains concerned about enforced disappearances in the Crimean peninsula, where Russian occupation authorities have made no efforts to investigate dozens of enforced disappearances of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian activists since 2014.

The United States also remains concerned about an estimated 85,000 enforced disappearances in Syria.

The United States is concerned about the prevalence of enforced disappearances in Nicaragua. Independent NGOs and the UN have reported more than 500 enforced disappearances since April 2018.

The Iranian government bears responsibility for the enforced disappearances of its citizens as well as foreign and dual nationals. The U.S. urges the regime to provide information on individuals it has detained and to immediately release those unjustly imprisoned.

The United States highlights the continued disappearances in Burundi since the political crisis began in 2015.

The United States congratulates Mexico on the passage of its 2017 disappearances law, which holds great promise, and urges the government to resolve the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala in 2014.

The United States is deeply alarmed by the enforced disappearances of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of minority Muslim groups to re-education camps in Xinjiang and calls on China to release the thousands of Uighurs and other Muslims who have disappeared into the new Gulag archipelago in Xinjiang. In addition, we remain troubled by the arbitrary detention of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who has been detained for nearly three years without trial.

The United States urges these governments to investigate cases and ensure that their population is afforded the rights they are entitled to under domestic and international laws.

What steps can be taken to increase pressure on governments to investigate reports of enforced disappearances, and how might non-governmental organizations most effectively monitor and ensure that governments conduct full and transparent investigations and hold those responsible to account?