A selection of UN TV programmes, webcasts and video clips on issues in the news

Saturday, 29 August 2015

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances 2015, August 30th

Victims of enforced disappearances are deprived of their liberty, kept in secret detention and seldom released. Often their fate remains unknown; they are frequently tortured and in constant fear of being killed. Even if they are eventually set free, the physical and psychological scars stay with them for the rest of their lives. The victims’ families and loved ones also suffer immense anguish.
Far from being a practice employed only in the past by military dictatorships, enforced disappearance continues to be used by some States. In the past year alone, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance -- the two United Nations mechanisms on enforced disappearance, composed of independent experts -- received 246 requests by family members across the world to take urgent action. This figure is just a fraction of the thousands of cases that are never reported either because of security conditions or because of a lack of knowledge of the existence of international mechanisms that can help.
In recent years there has also been an alarming number of acts by non-state actors, including armed extremist and terrorist groups, that are tantamount to enforced disappearances and that are also gross abuses of human rights.
The prohibition of enforced disappearance is absolute. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance affirms unequivocally that the use of enforced disappearance is illegal under any circumstances, including war, internal political instability or any other public emergency.
The Convention entered into force in 2010, has been signed by 93 States and ratified by 50, and provides a sound foundation for fighting impunity, protecting disappeared persons and their families and strengthening the guarantees provided by the rule of law -- including investigation, prosecution, justice and reparation.
On this international day, I urge all Member States to ratify or accede to the Convention without delay, and I call on the States parties to the Convention to implement it. It is time for an end to all enforced disappearances.
Ban Ki-moon

Amid Growing Use of Enforced Disappearances by Non-State Actors, Secretary-General Urges Prompt Action in Message on International Day Commemorating Victims.

 “Time is of the essence” – UN experts call for global rules for the immediate search of the disappeared International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances - Sunday 30 August 2015

GENEVA (28 August 2015) –Two United Nations expert groups on enforced disappearances call on States to establish and activate protocols for the immediate search of disappeared persons across the world.

Speaking ahead of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, on Sunday 30 August, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances urge Governments to activate all means of search of disappeared persons in a systematic way, including through the establishment of protocols.

“Over the last year, we have been working on 246 recent cases of enforced disappearances perpetrated all over the world - a clear indication that this heinous practice is still used in a number of countries. These cases are nevertheless only the tip of the iceberg of thousands of cases which are never reported either because of fear of reprisals or because the security conditions do not allow doing so.

The lack of resources and the insufficient awareness of existing international mechanisms are other reasons why many cases of enforced disappearances are never reported to the United Nations.

Following the activation of the urgent actions procedures by the Working Group and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances over the last year, 13 disappeared persons were found alive, in detention, and sadly two were found dead.

These procedures can make a difference for the relatives in despair:

‘I would like to inform you that due to your constant intervention and monitoring of the situation, XX was released by his abductors. Words cannot express how grateful we are to the Working Group and I request you to personally convey my indebtedness to every member of the group.’

‘Thanks for reading my messages and for taking them into account. I finally have the impression that someone is listening to me and paying attention to the case of my son,’ wrote the mother of a disappeared person.

‘I would like to inform you hereby that because of the impact of strong support and concern shown by your office, xx and xx were safely released.’

‘The letter of the Committee was received two weeks ago. A few days later, [the authorities] came to visit us to inform about the investigation and invited us to take part to it. It is the first time after so many months that we have the impression that things are moving again,’ wrote jointly the mothers of two disappeared persons.

The experience and use of the tool of urgent actions by the Committee and the Working Group show that in the case of enforced disappearance time is of the essence. The hours and days that follow a disappearance are crucial to find the disappeared person alive. The actions taken in the immediate aftermath of a disappearance cannot be left to hazards but have to be systematized in protocols that permit the immediate activation of all means at disposal for the search of the disappeared.

These protocols for the search of the disappeared need to be established in all States - irrespective of the number of enforced disappearances - and have to presume, at least initially, that the disappeared person must be searched alive.

We call upon governments to take action as soon as a case of disappearance is reported to the authorities and all necessary measures to seek and find the disappeared person and to avoid irreparable harm.

We equally urge governments to guarantee the full protection from all forms of reprisals of those who report cases of enforces disappearances, the authors of the urgent actions requests, the witnesses, the relatives of the disappeared persons, their defence counsels, and all persons taking part in the related investigations.

We also encourage all those whose beloved ones have disappeared, as well as those acting on their behalf, to make use of the tool provided by the urgent action procedures* of the Working Group and of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances.”

Amnistía Internacional La desaparición de más de 22 mil personas en México, las ejecuciones extrajudiciales en Tlatlaya, los feminicidos en Chihuahua y las decenas de miles de secuestros de personas migrantes en su paso por el país reflejan el grave contexto de violaciones a los derechos humanos en México que ha habitado durante décadas bajo una larga sombra de impunidad. 

Es momento de poner fin al sufrimiento de las familias por la desaparición de uno o más de sus integrantes, que nuestros familiares desaparezcan #NoEsNormal

Firma la petición y ayúdanos a evitar que estos atroces crímenes se olviden y queden impunes.

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