The United Nations body set up to assist families in determining the fate or whereabouts of disappeared relatives has expressed its concern over the growing number of cases of enforced disappearances taking place worldwide.
“Enforced disappearance is a terrible practice that affects men, women and children from all parts of the globe,” the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said in a statement issued to mark the 25th anniversary of the International Day of the Disappeared, observed on 30 August.
The Day is being marked around the world with associations of relatives of the disappeared coming together to hold acts of remembrance and to call for action to find their loved ones.
The Working Group said there are a growing number of cases of enforced disappearances in places such as Chad, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Thailand. In addition, there are reports of disappearances which took place in the past and are still being received from Algeria and Nepal.
“The victims include human rights defenders, religious leaders, and people belonging to different ethnic and indigenous groups,” said the Group.
The five-member panel is also concerned that “cases of disappearances are happening in certain parts of the world but are not being reported.”
Given the “indispensable” role played by Governments in discovering the fate or whereabouts of disappeared persons, the Group called on authorities worldwide to take steps to address all disappearances, regardless of when these began.
It also called on all Governments to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, whose entry into force “will help strengthen Government's capacities to prevent and eradicate disappearances and will help the victims obtain their rights to justice and truth.”
In addition to helping relatives ascertain the fate of their loved ones, the Group, which was established in 1980, also acts as a conduit between the families and Governments concerned.