The UN called Tuesday for all states to end the "heinous crime" of enforced or involuntary disappearances [press release]. Enforced disappearances refers to the practice of placing people in secret detentions for weeks or months without ever being brought before a judge. Some victims of the practice say they were tortured during their detainment. The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances [official website] called the practice "very worrisome," and stated that "whether it is used to counter terrorism, to fight organized crime or suppress legitimate civil strife demanding democracy, freedom of expression or religion, should be considered as an enforced disappearance and as such adequately investigated, prosecuted and punished." The release of the statement marks the first UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances [press release], a day devoted to awareness of the crime of enforced disappearances and dedicated to the victims and their families. The UN urged all states to translate and disseminate the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance [text] which was adopted by the UN General Assembly [official website] two decades ago.
The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has called on other nations to end the practice of enforced disappearances. In June, they demanded [JURIST report] China address its practice of "enforced disappearances" [press release] and reveal the location of 355 detained Tibetan monks. That same month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over the arrest and arbitrary detention of dozens of civilians by Libyan opposition authorities. A three-person commission for the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] appointed to investigate violence in Libya published a report [PDF] saying that government forces have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes [JURIST report] under orders from Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], including imprisonment, and other severe deprivations of physical liberties.