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Interactive Dialogue on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
September 12, 2014

Agenda Item 3, Clustered Interactive Dialogue with The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
As Delivered by Kevin Whelan
27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
September 12, 2014

The United States welcomes this opportunity to engage the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.  We support the working group’s mission to help families learn the fates of their disappeared relatives.  To this end, it is important to monitor whether States act consistent with the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.  It is also important to help states implement the norms enshrined in the Declaration.

In particular, the United States notes the disturbing reports that Burundian villagers and fishermen discovered as many as 40 corpses, some bound and wrapped in plastic, in Lake Rweru, a lake that straddles the Burundian border with Rwanda, between July and August.  At least four bodies were recovered by Burundian officials.

Both Rwanda and Burundi have denied that the corpses are of their nationals.  However, Burundi has not undertaken a meaningful investigation to determine the identities of the bodies, how they were killed, and by whom.

We are deeply concerned about these killings, particularly in a region with a history of political and ethnic violence.  We urgently request the working group to encourage the Burundian government to conduct an investigation, in coordination as appropriate with the Rwandan government, and to accept independent forensic support for investigators.  We also urge the working group to express its deep concern and offer its support in the investigation of these killings.