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On International Day, UN Chief Calls for Action to End Enforced Disappearances

Publié le Lundi 30 Août 2021 | MAP



​New York (United Nations) - UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged countries to fulfil their obligations to prevent and prosecute cases of enforced disappearance, a “cowardly practice” which the COVID-19 pandemic has made even more difficult to combat. The UN chief made the appeal in his message to mark the International Day honouring victims of this serious human rights violation, observed on Monday.


“Together, we can and we must end all enforced disappearances,” he said. Enforced disappearance refers to the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by agents of the State, or those acting with State authorization or support, whose whereabouts are unknown.

Once largely the product of military dictatorships, it has become a global problem, according to the UN, with hundreds of thousands of people “disappeared” in more than 80 countries. Impunity remains widespread. While strictly prohibited under international human rights law, Guterres said enforced disappearance continues to be used across the world as a method of repression, terror, and stifling dissent.

“Paradoxically, it is sometimes used under the pretext of countering crime or terrorism. Lawyers, witnesses, political opposition, and human rights defenders are particularly at risk,” he added. Having been removed from the protection of the law, victims, who can include children, are deprived of all their rights and are at the mercy of their captors.

They are frequently tortured and know that it is unlikely anyone will come to their aid. Some are even killed. “Enforced disappearance deprives families and communities of the right to know the truth about their loved ones, of accountability, justice and reparation,” the Secretary-General said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the agony and anguish of enforced disappearance, by limiting capacities to search for missing persons and investigate alleged enforced disappearance.” The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances has been commemorated annually on 30 August since 2011.