UNITED NATIONS - The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has expressed deep concern and frustration at the rising number of cases, and underlined the need to prevent such acts and hold the perpetrators to account.

“We are seriously concerned that the number of enforced disappearances is increasingly rising with the false and pernicious belief that they are a useful tool to preserve national security and combat terrorism,” the human rights experts said in a report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.

“Last year alone, we dealt with 483 urgent actions out of 766 newly reported cases of disappearance in 37 States; more than three times higher than those reflected in our previous year’s annual report,” it added, highlighting that this number – more than one disappearance per day – is “just the tip of the iceberg.”

According to a news release, the Working Group expressed particular concern about a steep increase in the number of so-called ‘short-term disappearances.’

“The fact that the victim reappears in many of these cases, does not render less worrisome this form of enforced disappearance, which is equally serious and must be eradicated,” the experts noted and strongly reiterated that: “There is no time limit, no matter how short, for an enforced disappearance to occur.”

In their presentation, the experts also drew attention of the Council members to a pattern of threats, intimidation and reprisals against victims of enforced disappearance, including family members, witnesses and human rights defenders working on such cases.

In its report, the Working Group also made preliminary observations on the problem of enforced disappearances in the context of migration. Over the next year, the experts will assess the issues of migration caused by enforced disappearances, enforced disappearances of migrants, factors contributing to the enforced disappearance of migrants; and State obligations in the context of the enforced disappearance of migrants,  the news release noted.