30 August 2011: International Day of the Disappeared
On the International Day of the Disappeared, FIACAT points to its tireless campaigning to end enforced disappearances
Every year thousands of people are arrested or kidnapped by government agents and disappear. Deprived of the protection of the law, they are often tortured and live in permanent fear of being killed. All physical traces of these people disappear and, in some cases, the authorities deny that they ever existed.
FIACAT Secretary-General Marie-Jo Cocher believes that “Enforced disappearance is a crime which violates several fundamental rights at one at the same time. It violates the rights of the victims, but also those of their families, who find themselves, plunged into agonising uncertainty.”
On 23 December last an international legal instrument capable of combating this crime finally came into being. In spite of this, FIACAT notes that, of the 30 countries in which an ACAT is operating, only nine have ratified the International Convention against enforced or involuntary disappearances and a mere five of these nine have recognised the authority of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive individual complaints.
In light of this FIACAT, in partnership with its network of members, is today launching an awareness campaign targeting governments, with a view to making the Convention work effectively for victims and their families.
Enforced disappearances first came to light in Latin America and the Caribbean after 1945 as a means of political repression. In recent years they have gone global in the “war on terror”. Finding their justification in the need to gather intelligence on terrorist suspects, “extraordinary rendition” is tantamount to secretly kidnapping terrorist suspects and transferring them to another country for interrogation.
In all, the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances has brought 53 337 cases to the attention of governments since it was set up in 1980. Trade unionists, teachers, students, cultural workers, members of religious or ethnic minorities or leaders of political parties: for the most part they have been opponents of their government.
Press contact: Nathalie Jeannin, Permanent Representative of FIACAT to the United Nations– firstname.lastname@example.org - +41 787499 328