The problem of enforced disappearances and missing persons
is far from resolved, even in Europe. Some 14 000 people are still
missing in the Western Balkans alone, 2 300 in the North Caucasus
region of the Russian Federation, and close to 2 000 in Cyprus.
Countless persons are also missing after the conflicts in the South
Caucasus region. The continuing suffering of relatives and friends
of missing persons, recognised by the European Court of Human Rights
as amounting to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, remains
a formidable obstacle to lasting peace and reconciliation.
Therefore the entry into force, in December 2010, of the United
Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons
from Enforced Disappearance is to be warmly welcomed.
The member States of the Council of Europe should fully and
expeditiously investigate all cases in which there is a reasonable
suspicion that an enforced disappearance may have occurred within
their jurisdiction, and avail themselves of all legal means at their
disposal to assume jurisdiction over cases that occurred in other countries
whose authorities have failed to take appropriate action.
Those member States that have not yet done so should be invited
to sign and ratify the United Nations convention and those member
States that have ratified the convention should contribute actively
to the functioning of this instrument. The member States should
consider launching the process of elaborating a European convention
for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance, based
on and enhancing the achievements of the United Nations convention.