(Unofficial summary)

Article 1 prohibits enforced disappearances; no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.

“Enforced disappearance” is defined in Article 2 of the Convention as the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.

The widespread or systematic use of enforced disappearance is further defined as a crime against humanity in Article 6.

Parties to the convention also undertake to:

  • investigate acts of enforced disappearance and bring those responsible to justice;
  • ensure that enforced disappearance constitutes an offence under its criminal law;
  • establish jurisdiction over the offence of enforced disappearance when the alleged offender is within its territory, even if they are not a citizen or resident;
  • cooperate with other states in ensuring that offenders are prosecuted or extradited, and to assist the victims of enforced disappearance or locate and return their remains;
  • respect minimum legal standards around the deprivation of liberty, including the right for imprisonment to be challenged before the courts;
  • establish a register of those currently imprisoned, and allow it to be inspected by relatives and counsel;
  • ensure that victims of enforced disappearance or those directly affected by it have a right to obtain reparation and compensation. (Article 24. 4)
  • the right to obtain reparation covers material and dangers and, where appropriate, other forms of reparation such as; a) Restitution. b) Rehabilitation. c) Satisfaction, including restoration of dignity and reparation. d) Guarantee of non-repetition. (Article 24. 5)

The Convention will be governed by a Committee on Enforced Disappearances elected by its parties. Parties are obliged to report to this committee on the steps they have taken to implement it within two years of becoming subject to it.

The Convention includes an optional complaints system whereby citizens of parties may appeal to the Committee for assistance in locating a disappeared person. Parties may join this system at any time, but may only opt out of it upon signature.

Source: Wikipedia, accessed on 25 May 2012.