Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, observed today:
Enforced disappearance — while strictly prohibited under international human rights law in all circumstances — continues to be used across the world as a method of repression, terror and stifling dissent. Paradoxically, it is sometimes used under the pretext of countering crime or terrorism. Lawyers, witnesses, political opposition and human rights defenders are particularly at risk.
Enforced disappearance deprives families and communities of the right to know the truth about their loved ones, of accountability, justice and reparation. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the agony and anguish of enforced disappearance, by limiting capacities to search for missing persons and investigate alleged enforced disappearance.
The Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances is indispensable in helping to tackle this cowardly practice. But, it requires the will and commitment of those with the power to do so. States must fulfil their obligations to prevent enforced disappearance, to search for the victims and to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators.
On this International Day, I reiterate my call to all States to ratify the Convention and to work with the United Nations Committee and Working Group on Enforced Disappearances. Together, we can and we must end all enforced disappearances.