Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, observed on 30 August:
Enforced disappearance can be misperceived as an issue of the past, but many cases remain unresolved and new ones continue to arise. The Committee and the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, the key United Nations mechanisms established to address this matter, receive new cases daily, many in the context of the fight against organized crime and terrorism.
Without due process and safeguards, abuses in the criminal justice system are much more likely, and when coupled with a culture of impunity, they can also increase the likelihood of enforced disappearances. These disappearances have a profound impact on the lives of those searching for the victims. Uncertainty as to the whereabouts and fate of a friend, family member or loved one causes great psychological distress. We must end this suffering.
Steps towards accountability can help the healing process. Successful prosecutions of enforced disappearance cases have contributed to uncovering the truth, delivering justice and deterring repetition of this atrocity. These cases confirm that it is possible to put an end to this horrific practice. We must also step up our efforts to protect human rights defenders, environmental activists, journalists and leaders of social movements. Women are particularly vulnerable.
I call on States to do more to prevent enforced disappearances and bring to justice those responsible. To this end, I call on countries to cooperate fully with United Nations mechanisms. I also urge all States that have not yet done so to sign, ratify or accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
On this International Day, let us pledge to do more together to end this grave violation of human rights.