International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
Following the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance by the UN General Assembly which entered into force in 2010, the world celebrates today, 30th August, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
Rome Statutes of the ICC of 1998 affirms that enforced disappearance constitutes a “crime against humanity”, a crime that is not subjected to a statute of limitations. Correspondingly, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights stressed the importance that the State adopt all necessary measures to investigate and punish those responsible, as appropriate; to establish the truth of what happened; to locate the victims’ whereabouts and advise the family members, and also to provide fair and adequate reparation, as appropriate.
The troubling aspect of enforced disappearance, a tactic that has frequently been used to spread terror, is that its effect extends beyond the direct victims. The feeling of insecurity that results from this heinous practice affects close relatives as well as their communities, who become secondary victims of the crime. Family members deserve to know the truth about what happened to their loved ones to relieve suffering as a result of the uncertainty caused.
Enforced disappearance also entails many financial difficulties, in the case, for instance, where the missing person is the only breadwinner, so the family loses their source of income. In addition, certain local laws do not allow family members/relatives of the victim to receive pension or any subsidiaries unless a death certificate is presented.
In that context, women often pay the heaviest price in such an ordeal. Wives of men that have disappeared often encounter economic hardship, social exclusion or could possibly be denied access to social benefits entitled to them. Similarly, women who are victims of enforced disappearance are often subjected to sexual abuse and other forms of violence.
GIHR, emerging from its mission to protect human rights, supports the movement to eradicate the practice of Enforced Disappearance that has become a global issue. GIHR shall continue to work towards supporting and promoting the respect and protection of these rights and calls to the international community to unify efforts and exchange experience to limit this serious phenomena and eliminate it.
And for this noble cause the GIHR will mobilize all its material, human, and legal potential to consult, exchange information and experiences, and work plans related to this phenomenon, that jeopardize human rights, undermine freedom, and prevent communication of the abductee, as well prevent abductees from undertaking their social, professional, and human functions, by detaining them in location hidden from the law.
Celebrating this Day carries a number of important messages and provides a platform to warn the world of the seriousness of the enforced disappearance and the great damage it inflicts on the political and social development.
GIHR would like to take this opportunity to remember the victims of Enforced Disappearance all around the world, and express our deep sorrow for their unknown fate. GIHR would also like to draw attention to the spread of these heinous practices in areas that witness political and social movements, within the context of human rights, freedoms, and good governance struggle.
In addition, we urge all countries to recognize the goals and objectives and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which has been signed by 49 states and accessed by 58 states, and to cooperate with the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED), and the working group on enforced disappearance. Also, we encourage the states to adopt reparation justice, as stated in the UN General Assembly resolution, and in the basic principles and guidelines on the right of equity and reparation to the victims of gross violations to the international human rights law, and the international humanitarian law of 2005.
GIHR is hopeful that we shall witness a decline in the number of reports of harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearances or relatives of persons who have disappeared. As the UN Secretary-General stated, “Enforced Disappearance is a practice that cannot be tolerated in the twenty-first century.”