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[Press release] International Day of the Disappeared : giving voice to the disappeared

août 2010

[français] [français]

Paris, 30 August 2010

On the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared, ACAT-France, FEMED and FIACAT have today called for an end to enforced disappearances across the world.

“We must never remain silent. We must be the voice of the disappeared, who cannot speak for themselves. We must continue to speak out loud” was the message conveyed by Edita Burgos. This Filipino woman has not seen her son Jonas since 28 April 2007. An agronomist aged 37, he was taken away by two policemen in broad daylight in front of hundreds of witnesses. Since then, however, no one knows anything of his whereabouts and the authorities have denied they are holding him.

Every year across the world, thousands of people like Jonas Burgos are arrested or abducted by state officials and then disappear. Bereft of legal protection, they are often tortured, under constant threat of death, or murdered leaving no trace.

This despicable practice, which was used extensively in the 1970s in Morocco and Latin America, very quickly spread to every other continent. The crime of enforced disappearance violates several fundamental rights simultaneously ; those of the victim, but also those of their families, who are plunged into excruciating uncertainty. In Asia, Africa and Europe, the families of the disappeared have been calling for decades for the truth to be established as regards the fate of their loved ones, but have met with indifference from the states concerned, who have declined all responsibility as to the perpetration of this crime.

Jean-Etienne de Linares, Delegate General for ACAT-France, has described enforced disappearance as “a crime characterised by organised denial and impunity, violation of the fundamental rights of the human person and permanent suffering for their families”. Nassera Dutour, President of FEMED, has added that “the victims’ next of kin are entitled to know what has become of the disappeared. States cannot continue to ignore their call for the truth, justice and full and comprehensive reparation”.

At a time when the world has finally devised an international legal instrument that will enable this crime to be combated, FIACAT, ACAT-France and FEMED are running a campaign, in conjunction with the families of the disappeared, to ensure that it is adopted by states. Just one more ratification is needed to enable the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to enter into force [1].

ACAT-France, FEMED and FIACAT are calling on states to take all the necessary steps to ratify and implement this instrument, and hence to :

protect all individuals against enforced disappearance ;
establish the truth concerning the fate of the disappeared by conducting serious and impartial investigations ;
prosecute the perpetrators of this crime and deliver justice to victims and their families ;
bring a definitive end to this practice.

Contacts :

- Jean-Etienne de Linares, Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture (ACAT-France) : 01 40 40 71 21 ;

- Laurie Leandri, Euro-Mediterranean Federation against Enforced Disappearances (FEMED) :
01 42 05 06 22 ;

- Marie-Jo Cocher, Internation Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) : 01 42 80 01 60 ;


[1] 20 ratifications are needed.

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