International Day of the victims of enforced Disappearances
On 30 August we celebrate International Day of the victims of enforced Disappearances. The day was set up by the UN General Assembly in 2011 by its resolution 65/209. This Day is to express concerns about the enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world. The UN state that, a “forced disappearance” qualifies as a crime against humanity.
The resolution of the UN General Assembly states the concern of the body in relation to “the rise in enforced or involuntary disappearances in different regions of the world, like arrests, detentions, and abductions when they are part of enforced disappearances or they are similar to them, and the increasing number of reports on harassment, abuse and threats suffered by witnesses of enforced disappearances or family members of people who have been victims of enforced disappearances.”
An enforced disappearance occurs when someone took one or members of the family giving no reason, producing no arrest warrant. The victims are frequently tortured and in constant fear for their lives. The families and friends of the victims, experience slow mental anguish, and alternate between hope and despair. They are undergoing a serious violation of human rights.
Enforced disappearance has a disastrous effect not only on direct victims, the missing persons but also on families and close friends. Even worse, it creates a climate of deep anxiety, a feeling of permanent insecurity prevailing in society in general. Enforced disappearance is a tool of terror.
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UN Working Group
The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is formed by a group of five international experts, examines issues related to enforced or involuntary disappearances, and urges States to promote the investigation and location of victims of enforced disappearances. According to the Working Group definition, for an enforced disappearance to occur, three elements must be present:
- Deprivation of liberty against the victim’s will.
- Participation of agents of the State, at least indirectly by acquiescence.
- Refusal to reveal the fate or location of the victim.
Activities on International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
To spread awareness many exhibitions of photographs and the screening of several short films are conducted. Activists, NGOs, courts, and international organizations have increasingly sought to prevent enforced disappearances and obtain retroactive justice for victims.
A number of international bodies and organizations in the fields of human rights activism and humanitarian aid are working against secret imprisonment. The International Day of the Disappearances is used as an opportunity to highlight these institutions’ work, increase public awareness, and call for donations and volunteers.
For the family members of the disappeared it is another opportunity to take out photos of their beloved husbands and wives, sons and daughters, cousins, brothers, and sisters, who one day went to work in the shop or a field and never returned. They tirelessly carry their images, in picture frames, on wooden boards, or in lockets hung around their necks, they take them to public events to fight against impunity and injustice so that they will not be forgotten. If enforced disappearance was meant to annihilate the history of that person it is the family members that maintain their history alive.
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