Enforced disappearance has consistently been devised as a method of spreading terror within the society. Through this practice, the feeling of insecurity is generated by close relatives of the disappeared, including their communities and society. This practice is now regarded as a global issue as it has no restriction to a particular region of the world. Although used to be a strategy employed by military dictatorships, it is now perpetuated in rigid situations of internal conflict.
Specific concern is placed on the current harassment of relatives of victims, legal counsel dealing with cases, human rights defenders and witnesses of the happening; and the impunity for this offence. Special attention should also be paid to particular groups of people, especially vulnerable ones, people with disabilities and children. Most times, victims suffer torture and are usually afraid for their lives. This is because they have been from the protection of the law and taken away from the society, deprived of every of their rights and at their captors’ mercy.
Economic hardships that come with a disappearance are very difficult.
Although these disappearances do not result in death and the victim is freed from captive eventually, the brutality, torture, physical and psychological scars of this abuse often remain. Most times, the economic hardships that come with a disappearance affect entire families. They are also the ones who are more into the struggle to find a solution to family members’ disappearances. While doing this, they suffer persecution, intimidation and reprisals. However, when women themselves are victims, they suffer sexual violence and other forms of violence.
Children also fall victims of this practice, both directly and indirectly. A child’s disappearance is considered a breach of some provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which includes the right to a personal identity. Also, the human rights of a child is violated through the loss of a parent as a result of enforced disappearance. Communities are likewise affected directly by the kidnap of breadwinners, the degradation of the families’ social marginalization and their economic situation.
Observation of the international day began in 2011.
On December 21, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly, through its resolution 65/209, showed concern about the increasing rate of involuntary disappearances, including detention, arrest and abduction in different parts of the world. They were also aware of the increasing number of reports regarding ill-treatment, harassment and intimidation of witnesses of the happening of relatives of disappeared persons. The resolution brought about the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Upon adoption of the International Convention, the UN General Assembly declared August 30 as the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance; its observation began in 2011. A Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, declared by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 47/133 of December 18, 1992, states that enforced disappearance happens when people are detained, arrested or abducted against their will; or deprived of their freedom by governmental officials, removing the protection of the law over such persons.
Human rights of victims are violated by this practice.
Some of the human rights of victims that this form of dehumanization often violate are the right to security and liberty of the person; the right to life; the right to judicial guarantees and a fair trial; the right to be aware of the truth surrounding a disappearance; the right to recognition as a person before the law; the right to avoid subjection torture and other inhuman treatment; the right to an identity; and the right to effective remedy, which include compensation and reparation. Also, economic, cultural and social rights of victims and families are violated.