UN rights officials call for end to enforced disappearances

[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights commemorated [press release] the International Day of the Disappeared Monday, calling on states to eliminate enforced disappearances and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance [text, PDF]. Jemery Sarkin, chairperson of the UN working group on enforced disappearances, said the signing the treaty was important because enforced disappearances, "affect[] many people worldwide, and [have] a particular impact on women and children ... When women are victims of disappearance themselves, they are particularly vulnerable to sexual and other forms of violence." Also Monday, protesters in Srinagar [Sify report], Belgrade [B92 report], and Manila [Inquirer report] marked the day, renewing calls for government authorities to reveal the whereabouts of their friends and family.

The International Convention has been signed [JURIST report] by at least 57 countries but has not been ratified by the required 20 to take effect. It has not been endorsed by several countries including the US, England, Spain, Germany, and Italy. In 2008, Guatemala started its first [JURIST report] civil war disappearance trial, while the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] has recently found Russia responsible [JURIST news archive] for numerous disappearances in Chechnya. The UN has also criticized Sri Lanka [JURIST report] for failure to address its problem of enforced disappearances.

 

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