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Enforced disappearance PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 17 February 2006
No government has the right to keep that person's fate or whereabouts secret or to deny that he or she is being detained. This practice runs counter to the basic tenets of human rights law and international humanitarian law.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been disappeared by governments in their efforts to repress dissent, prevent political change or during internal armed conflict The families of victims of politically motivated forced and involuntary disappearnaces are prohibited from knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead. Uncertainty over the fate of disappeared person causes their families enormous suffering over long time spans, in societies emerging from civil war where disappearances take place on a broad scale, lack of accountability for disappearnces can seriously delay reconciliation and healing in society.
Human beings, everywhere, have a right to know what happened to any forcibly disappeared relatives.

disappearance in process The crime of enforced disappearance may be traced back to the late 1960s and early 1970s in Latin America. Latin American NGOs first constructed the term "enforced disappearance" to describe a technique of social repression used systematically by some governments in the region in the late 1960s, and throughout the 70s and 80s. The phenomenon has diversified over the last three decades and currently encompasses trans-border abductions, like those attributable to the United States under its practice of 'extraordinary rendition' against suspects in its 'war on terror'.
In 1979, a United Nations General Assembly resolution on " Disappeared persons" was passed, and prior to this politically motivated disappearances were referred to only as " missing persons" or "persons unaccounted for" and were not protected under the law.
The United Nation Commission on Human Rights established a Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in 1980, a thematic mechanism set up within the framework of the United Nations Human Rights Program to deal with specific violations of human rights of a particularly serious nature occurring on a global scale. Prior to this, human rights violations had only been dealt with in a given country or territory. A decade later, the U.N. Sub-Commission on Human Rights prepared a draft Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1992.
A General Assembly declaration is not a legally binding instrument, did not require governments to take specific action to comply with the standards set out, and few did.

disappearance in process During the following decade, the Sub- Commission adopted a Draft International Convention on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. While based on the 1992 Declaration, it contains the important obligation of States to criminalize this offence under domestic law. Standards for the protection against enforced disappearance are also found in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court however it is only committed to widespread systematic attacks against civilian population constituting crimes against humanity.
The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations agreed to the creation of an openended Working Group to draft a legally binding treaty for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances to assure that this practice becomes a crime under the domestic law of states. This Working Group finished its task of creation of a Treaty which will not be brought to the member states of the United Nations for Signature and Ratification.
Nonviolence International believes disappearances, due to their to their peculiar nature to both victimize a singular disappeared individual, in the long term victimze their family and friends and more broadly send a message of terror and create fear are a form of violence against humanity which must never be accepted or tolerated, and which humanity as a whole has a responsibility to assure is uprooted from human society.
Nonviolence International calls for the speedy acceptance of the current draft International Convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances, and calls on all states and other entities to ensure its swift passage at the U.N. General Assembly.
All governments with any pretentions of defending human dignity should ratify it the day it is opened for signature.

Links to documents related to controling the state crime of politically motivated, forced and involuntary disappearances:

Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR)
OHCHR: Draft International Convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances
OHCHR: Working Group on a draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances
OHCHR: Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
OHCHR: Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance Adopted by General Assembly resolution 47/133 of 18 December 1992
OHCHR: Independent expert charged with examining the existing international criminal and human rights framework for the protection of persons from enforced or involuntary disappearances
OHCHR: Fact Sheet No.6 (Rev.2), Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
International Committee of the Red Cross: ICRC the Missing Project

Organizations working on the issue of forced involuntary disappearances in the Asian region:
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
China: Tiananmen Mothers Campaign Group
Indian Kashmir: Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)
Indonesia: KontraS-Commission for the Disappeared Victims of Violence
Nepal: Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC)
Philippines: Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)

Organizations without websites:
Relatives Committee of the May 1992 Heroes, Thailand: information about disappearance during May 1992 Democracy movement suppression in Thailand
Organization of Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared (OPFMD), Sri Lanka article on disappearance in Sri Lanka and work of OPFMD
Last Updated ( Thursday, 15 March 2007 )
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