International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
By admin August 30, 2016

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Since 2011, August 30th has been memorized as International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances to raise attention of family members and friends of the disappeared. Under international human rights law, enforced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization. This is typically followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate and whereabouts, with the intent of placing the victim outside the protection of the law.

Victims of enforced disappearance are in fact deprived of all their rights and are at the mercy of their captors. Some of the human rights violations that enforced disappearances brings about include:

  • The right to recognition as a person before the law;
  • The right to liberty and security of the person;
  • The right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • The right to life, when the disappeared person is killed;
  • The right to an identity;
  • The right to a fair trial and to judicial guarantees;
  • The right to an effective remedy, including reparation and compensation;
  • The right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of a disappearance.

Enforced disappearance has frequently been used as a strategy to spread terror within a society and has become a global problem that is not restricted to a specific region of the world. Once largely the product of military dictatorships, enforced disappearances can nowadays be perpetrated in complex situations of internal conflict, especially as a means of political repression of opponents.

On December 21, 2010, by its resolution 65/209, the UN General Assembly expressed its deep concern of the increase in enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world – including arrest, detention and abduction.  By the growing number of reports concerning harassment, this violation also includes ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearances or relatives of persons who have disappeared. As a result of the resolution, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was adopted and August 30 was declared to be the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

Besides the declaration of international day, UN also made other efforts in the protection of enforced disappearances and its victims. In 1980, the Commission on Human Rights decided to “establish for a period of one year a working group consisting of five of its members, to serve as experts in their individual capacities, to examine questions relevant to enforced or involuntary disappearances of persons”.

Actions like these will hopefully provide a solution to enforced disappearances and will call on governments to take a more active role in tackling issues of involuntary disappearance, as well revealing some of their own actions on this front.

For more information:

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances – UN

International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

Forced Disappearances

Enforced Disappearances – Amnesty International

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