GIHR Statement on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade25/08/2018
The world celebrates today, 30 August, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. It was decided to celebrate this Day after the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly to the International Convention on the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which entered into force in 2010.
Enforced disappearance is one of the worst crimes ever known by humanity. In 1998, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court has considered it as one of the crimes against humanity, even before the adoption of the Convention, and it is one of the crimes that do not become obsolete. Also, the American States Court for Human Rights was the first to contribute with its judicial efforts since 1988, to ensure the responsibility of the State for this disgraceful act. The ugliness of this practice is that its effect extends beyond the direct victims, who suffer, besides depriving them from freedom and protection of law, the pain that their families know nothing about their whereabouts, thus, families and dear people become secondary victims to the enforced disappearance, as they have no clue of the fate of their disappeared relatives, whether they are dead or alive, and their emotions are swinging between hope and despair for periods that could be long or short, and sometimes they might face the same fate. Enforced disappearance also entails many financial difficulties, when the disappeared is the main breadwinner, so the family loses their source of income, and in some cases, local laws don’t allow receiving the pension or any subsidiaries unless death certificate is presented. Women often pay the heaviest toll in such ordeal, because the woman is the one who stands for finding a solution to the issue of the disappearance of her family members despite many troubles she might face. And if the woman herself is a victim of enforced disappearance, she will specially be vulnerable to sexual violence and other forms of violence.
Being aware of its duties, which all contribute to the protection of human rights, calling for supporting these rights, and calling for fieldwork and raising awareness to achieve this, demanding by all available means to respect and protect these rights, GHIR joins its voice to all voices concerned with unifying efforts and exchanging experiences, to limit this serious phenomenon before eliminating it later. And for this great humanitarian aim, GIHR is going ahead with all its material, human, and legal potential to intensify consultations, exchange information, experiences, and work plans about this disturbing and disruptive phenomenon concerning human rights as it undermines freedom, prevents communication, and prevents the disappeared from performing their social, professional, and humanitarian duties, by detaining them in unknown places away from their close relatives, broad communities, and comprehensive humanitarian circle.
GIHR see that celebrating this Day gives a number of important messages and indicates every time, the importance of being aware of the seriousness of the enforced disappearance of the persons, without right, and the damage it inflicts on the communities where it occurs and the countries where its citizens are exposed to it regarding its political and developmental processes and their fate in general, as the enforced disappearance is also one of major obstacles causing fear and inability to work give and innovate, and the continuous anticipation of its occurrence is a an abuse of freedom of active participation in supporting freedom and providing all rights under the protection of legal justice.
GIHR would like to take the opportunity of this occasion on this Day to remember the disappeared in and outside their countries with deep sadness and sorrow for their unknown fate, and would like to draw the attention to the spread of this practice in the areas that witness political and social movements, within the context of struggling for human rights, spreading freedoms, democracy and good governance. And we call upon all world countries to join the International Convention on the cases of Enforced Disappearance, which has been signed till now by 49 States and acceded by 58 States, and to cooperate with the UN Committee on the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED), and the team working on the cases of enforced disappearance. Also, we encourage the States to adopt the compensatory justice approach dedicated in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution containing the basic principles and guidelines on the right of equity and reparation to the victims of gross violations of the International Human Rights Law, and the serious violations of the International Humanitarian Law of 2005.
We hope that, when this Day comes next year, it will witness a declining in the number of victims, and as the former UN Secretary-General stated in his message on this occasion, “the enforced disappearance is a practice whose perpetrators cannot be tolerated in the twenty-first century.”