CYPRUS PROBLEM: Positions Taken by International Organizations on the Problem of Disappearances

POSITIONS TAKEN BY INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS ON THE PROBLEM OF DISAPPEARANCES

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  1. United Nations General Assembly Resolutions
    1. 3450 (XXX) 1975
    2. 32/128 1977
    3. 33/172 1978
    4. 36/164 1981
    5. 37/181 1982
  2. XXIVth International Conference of the Red Cross
  3. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
  4. COUNCIL OF EUROPE - CONSEIL DE L' EUROPE
    1. APPLICATIONS Nos. 6780/74 AND 6950/75
    2. APPLICATION No. 8007/77

United Nations General Assembly Resolutions

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RESOLUTION 3450 (XXX)

Adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1975 on the question of missing persons in Cyprus

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 3212(XXIX) of 1 November 1974,

Noting resolution 4(XXXI) of the Commission on Human Rights on 13. February 1975,

Gravely concerned about the fate of a considerable number of Cypriots who are missing as a result of armed conflict in Cyprus,

Appreciating the work of the International Committee of the Red (7ra.ss in this field.

Reaffirming the basic human need of families in Cyprus to be informed about missing relatives,

  1. Requests the Secretary-General to exert every effort in close cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross in assisting the tracing of and accounting for missing persons as a result of armed conflict in Cyprus;

  2. Requests the Secretary-General to provide the Commission on Human Rights at its thirty-second session with information relevant to the implementation of the present resolution.

Adopted at the 2433rd meeting by 106 votes to none with 26 abstentions.

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RESOLUTION 32/128

Adopted by the General Assembly on 16 December 1977 on the question of missing persons in Cyprus

The General Assembly,

Concerned at the lack of progress towards the tracing of and accounting for missing persons in Cyprus;

Expressing the hope that the informal discussions now taking place to establish a joint committee to trace missing persons are successful,

  1. Requests the Secretary-General to provide his good offices through his Special Representative in Cyprus to support the establishment of an Investigatory Body with the participation of the International Committee of the Red Cross which would be in a position to function impartially, effectively and speedily so as to resolve the problem without undue delay;
  2. Invites the parties concerned to continue cooperating in the establishment of the Investigatory Body and work out the modalities with a view to activating it expeditiously.

Adopted at the 105th meeting, without a vote.

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RESOLUTION 33/172

Adopted by the General Assembly on 20 December 1978 on the question of missing persons in Cyprus

The General Assembly,

Reaffirming its resolution 3450(XXX) of 9 November 1975 and 32/ 128 of 16 December 1977 on the missing persons in Cyprus,

Regretting the delay in the implementation of these resolutions,

  1. Urges the establishment of the investigatory body under the chairmanship of a representative of the Secretary-General with the cooperation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which would be in a position to function impartially, effectively and speedily so as to resolve the problem without undue delay. The representative of the Secretary-General shall be empowered, in case of disagreement, to reach a binding independent opinion which shall be implemented;
  2. Calls upon the parties to cooperate fully with the investigatory body and, to this effect, to appoint their representatives there-to forthwith;
  3. Requests the Secretary-General to continue his good offices, through his Special Representatives in Cyprus, to support the establishment of the investigatory body.

Adopted at the 90th meeting by 69 votes to 6 with 55 abstentions.

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RESOLUTION 36/164

Adopted by the General Assembly on 16 December 1981 on the question of missing persons in Cyprus

The General Assembly,

Recalling its previous resolutions on the question of the missing persons in Cyprus,

Reaffirming the basic human need of families to be informed, without further delay, about the fate of their missing relatives,

Having in mind that agreement was reached, on 19 May 1979, during the high-level meeting held in Nicosia under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Welcoming also the agreement establishing the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, referred to in the report of the Secretary-General of 27 May 1981, S/14490, including the oral agreement of 26 March 1981 concerning the attendance of representatives of the committees of relatives of missing persons at the meetings of the Commitee;

Regretting the fact that due to procedural difficulties no progress has been achieved towards the commencement of the Committee's investigative work,

  1. Urges that the Committee proceed without any further delay, with its investigative work for the tracing of and accounting for missing persons in Cyprus;
  2. Calls upon the parties concerned to facilitate, in a spirit of cooperation and goodwill, the Committee on Missing Persons in carrying out its investigative task;
  3. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide his good offices for the unhindered functioning of the Committee on Missing Persons.

Adopted at the 101st meeting, without a vote.

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RESOLUTION 37/181

Adopted by the General Assembly on 17 December 1982

on the question of missing persons in Cyprus

The General Assembly,

Recalling its previous resolutions on the question of the missing persons in Cyprus,

Reaffirming the basic human need of families to be informed, without further delay, about the fate of their missing relatives,

Expressing concern that the Committee on Missing Persons m Cyprus, the establishment of which was announced on 22 April 1981, has failed to overcome procedural difficulties and has achieved no progress towards the commencement of its investigative work,

Emphasizing the need for a speedy resolution of this humanitarian problem,

  1. Invites the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the Commission on Human Rights to follow developments and to recommend ways and means to the parties concerned with a view to overcoming the pending procedural difficulties of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus and in cooperation with it to facilitate the effective implementation of its investigative work on the basis of the existing relevant agreements;

  2. Calls upon the parties concerned to facilitate such investigation In a spirit of co-operation and goodwill;
  3. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide his good offices with a view to facilitating the work of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus.

Adopted at the I 10th meeting, without a vote.

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The XXIVth International Conference of the Red Cross

FORCED OR INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES

The XXIVth International Conference of the Red Cross,

alarmed at the phenomenon of forced or involuntary disappearances, perpetrated, connived at or consented to by governments,

deeply moved by the great suffering such disappearances cause not only to the missing persons themselves and their families but also to society,

considering that such disappearances imply violations of fundamental human rights such as the right to life, freedom and personal safety, the right not to be submitted to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the right not to be arbitrarily arrested or detained, and the right to a just and public trial,

pointing out that families have a right to be informed of the whereabouts, health and welfare of their members, a right which is laid down in various resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly,

commending the efforts of the ICRC, the Working Group established by the UN Commission on Human Rights to investigate the phenomenon of forced or involuntary disappearances and various impartial humanitarian organizations for the benefit of missing persons and their families,

  1. condemns any action resulting in forced or involuntary disappearances, conducted or perpetrated by governments or with their connivance or consent,
  2. recommends that the ICRC take any appropriate action which might reveal the fate of missing persons or bring their families relief and urges that the ICRC Central Tracing Agency and any other impartial humanitarian organization be granted the facilities necessary to take effective action in this matter,
  3. urges governments to endeavour to prevent forced or involuntary disappearances and to undertake and complete thorough inquiries into every case of disappearance occurring in their territory,
  4. urges governments to co-operate with humanitarian organizations, and with the relevant bodies of the United Nations and of intergovernmental organizations, in particular those which investigate forced or involuntary disappearances, with a view to putting an end to that phenomenon.

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

VII. MISSING PERSONS

88. The general question of missing persons or "enforced disappearances" was on the agenda of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in September 1984. In the conclusions of his report (Doc. 5273) Mr. Verde wrote:

"Enforced disappearance is one of the most serious violations of the human rights safeguarded by international instruments: it infringes virtually all the victims' personal rights and many of the rights of their families. The violations are also contrary to the 1949 Geneva conventions and cannot be justified by special circumstances whether armed conflict, state of ermergency or internal unrest or tension. Under international law (eg. Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) there can be no derogation from the obligation to respect a "hard core" of rights, comprising the right to life, protection against torture and the universal right to recognition as a person before the law, which are infringed in the event of enforced disappearance. The breach is so serious that it should elicit the most severe international sanctions."

89. The Assembly took much the same view as Mr Verde and, after discussing his report, adopted Resolution 828 (1984) on enforced disappearances. There it branded these disappearances as "a flagrant violation of a whole series of human rights" and called on the governments of United Nations member states "to support the preparation and adoption by the United Nations of a declaration declaring that ‘enforced disappearances' is a crime against humanity" and therefore "not subject to limitation".

"Disappearances" constitute a clear violation of international law. When a person has been taken into custody and the authorities nonetheless deny knowledge of this, internationally guaranteed human rights are contravened, such as: the right to security of the person; the right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention and the right to an effective remedy for acts violating fundamental rights, as guaranteed by Articles 3, 9 and 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 9 and 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

A "disappearance" also contravenes Rule 92 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which states that "an untried prisoner shall be allowed to inform immediately his family of his detention and shall be given all reasonable facilities for communicating with his family and friends... The UN Commission on Human Rights, in Resolution 1986/55, expressed "its emotion at the anguish and sorrow of the families concerned, who should know the fate of their relatives". The suffering caused by a disappearance to the relatives, as well as to the victim, in itself contravenes the right not to be tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment".

Moreover, a person who has disappeared may have been tortured or killed in custody in violation of the rights guaranteed respectively by Articles 5 and 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 7 and 6 of the ICCPR. The right to life and the right not to be tortured are absolute rights enshrined in these articles from which no state may derogate even in situations of publicly declared emergency as defined in Article 4 of the ICCPR.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE -CONSEIL DE L' EUROPE

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EUROPEAN COMMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

APPLICATIONS Nos. 6780/74 AND 6950/75

CYPRUS
AGAINST
TURKEY

REPORT OF THE COMMISSION

(Adopted on 10 July 1976)

What follows is the conclusion of the European Commission on Human Rights, concerning the missing persons in Cyprus.

II. Missing persons

351. The Commission considers that there is a presumption of Turkish responsibility for the fate of persons shown to have been in Turkish custody. However, on the basis of the material before it, the Commission has been unable to ascertain whether, and under what circumstances, Greek Cypriot prisoners declared to be missing have been deprived of their life. (6). tion of persons who have disappeared.

90th plenary meeting 20th December 1978

Assistance and co-operation in accounting for persons who are missing or dead in armed conflicts

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EUROPEAN COMMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

APPLICATION No 8007/77

CYPRUS
AGAINST
TURKEY

REPORT OF THE COMMISSION

(Adopted on 4 October 1983)

RESOLUTION DH (92) 12

(adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 April 1992 at the 473rd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

I. Missing persons (para 123 above)

The Commission, having found it established in three cases, and having found sufficient indications in an indefinite number of cases, that Greek Cypriots who are still missing were unlawfully deprived of their liberty, in Turkish custody in 1974, noting that Turkey has failed to account for the fate of these persons, concludes by 16 votes against 1 that Turkey has violated Art 5 of the Convention.



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