Following Argentina ‘Grandmother’ reunion, UN experts urge support for families of disappeared

Mother of an Argentinean "desparecido" or "disappeared" tells her story during a visit to Buenos Aires in June 2011 by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

11 August 2014 – A group of United Nations human rights experts today urged Governments around the world to fully support the families of disappeared people and organizations working on their behalf in the search for their loved ones.

The appeal comes after the reunion of Estela de Carlotto, President of the Argentinian human rights organisation Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, with her grandson after a 36-year search. He was born in 1978 to Ms. de Carlotto’s daughter, Laura, who was disappeared by the military regime. He was taken away as a baby from his mother who was subsequently killed, and his identity has been substituted all these years.

“What happened to Ms. de Carlotto should be of hope and encouragement for all the families across the globe who tirelessly continue the search for their loved ones,” the experts said in a statement released by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR).

“However, it is essential that families of disappeared and organizations working on their behalf be fully supported by States that should assume their duty to secure the rights for truth, justice and reparation.”

The experts are from the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; the Committee on Enforced Disappearances; as well as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff; and the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, Morad El-Shazly.

“Events like this reinforce our strong commitment and resolve to continue our work to solve each case of enforced disappearance before us,” the Working Group added. “The enforced disappearance of a child is an extreme form of violence against children, and an exacerbation of the violation of the rights protected by the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.”

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances also noted that Ms. de Carlotto and her organization were one of the main actors who pushed for the draft and adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

“Ms. de Carlotto, like many other women, channelled her personal tragedy in a campaign for the hundreds of thousands who have disappeared. Therefore, it is highly symbolical that her courage and tireless fight have finally led to the identification of her grandson,” the Committee’s experts added.

“It is now our duty to intensify our efforts to promote the ratification and implementation of the Convention by all States, as a preventive tool against the repetition of such tragedies,” the Committee’s experts stressed.

“Thousands of cases of enforced disappearance continue to be unresolved. Behind each is a personal story,” said Morad El-Shazly. “We should never forget that throughout the world there are mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, siblings and friends who are still waiting to know the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.”


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