Comoros: UN Experts Decry Enforced Disappearance in Defiance of International Law

Geneva — "We condemn in the strongest terms the secret detention of Mr. Bobocha since his manifestly unlawful extradition from Madagascar to Comoros, on 27 January 2021," the experts said.

Bobocha, who is accused of terrorism-related offences, has been arbitrarily held in a secret location with no contact with the outside world for almost 50 days. "We are particularly alarmed by the irregularities of the extradition procedures and the secrecy surrounding his place of detention, which raises serious concerns about his physical and mental integrity and whether he is still alive," the experts said.

"We are urging the Comorian Government to provide proof of life, disclose the location in which Mr. Bobocha has been held since his arrival to Comoros and show full commitment to international human rights law," the experts said. "Enforced disappearance cannot be justified under any circumstance and may amount to a form of torture and ill-treatment."

Bobocha had sought asylum in Madagascar following consistent threats and intimidation and had refugee status when he was illegally extradited to Comoros in a manifest breach of international refugee law and human rights law.

The said concerns about the alleged involvement of the Military in the irregular extradition and continuous arbitrary detention of Bobocha are exacerbated in light of the obstructed access to places of detention under their authority, which the Special Rapporteur on Torture encountered during his official visit to Comoros in 2019.

"Despite credible allegations of intimidation, ill-treatment and excessive use of force at the hands of the Military, access to places of deprivation of liberty under their authority were seriously obstructed, preventing independent monitoring and creating an environment of impunity," experts said.

The experts said they were further surprised that the General Prosecutor has claimed to lack jurisdiction in the case of Bobocha and is unaware of his fate or whereabouts.

It is notorious that enforced disappearance places victims outside the protection of the law depriving them of the right to be recognized as persons before the law and of all fundamental safeguards and guarantees of fair trial, including the right to access to family, lawyer or medical examination and challenging the legality of their detention before a judicial authority. "The Comorian authorities must guarantee the full exercise of Mr. Bobocha's safeguards and guarantee his fair trial," the experts said.

"We urge authorities to conduct an independent and thorough investigation into the institutional and criminal responsibilities for Mr. Bobocha's disappearance and arbitrary detention with a view to end impunity," the experts said. "The authorities must also ensure the right to redress, rehabilitation and compensation to the victim and his family."

The experts will continue to engage with the Comorian authorities and closely monitor the situation.

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