Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, observed on 30 August:
The crime of enforced disappearance is rife across the world. We see new cases almost daily, including the disappearance of defenders of the environment, who are often indigenous peoples. Meanwhile, the excruciating pain of old cases is still acute, as the fate of thousands of disappeared people remains unknown, making the crime a continuous presence in the lives of the loved ones of the lost.
The United Nations Committee and Working Group on Enforced Disappearances have identified additional worrying trends, including reprisals against relatives of the victims and members of civil society, often in the name of security and counter-terrorism. Enforced disappearance also has gendered consequences particularly affecting women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.
Impunity compounds the suffering and anguish. Under international human rights law, families and societies have a right to know the truth about what happened. I call on Member States to fulfil this responsibility. With the support of international human rights mechanisms, States have a duty to strengthen their efforts to prevent enforced disappearances, to search for victims, and to increase assistance to victims and their relatives. It is equally critical to pursue credible and impartial judicial investigations.
On this International Day, let us renew our commitment to end all enforced disappearances. I call on all States to ratify the Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances and to accept the competence of the Committee to examine individual complaints. This is a first, but crucial step, towards the elimination of this atrocious crime.