International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

30 August 2021

Statement by Olivier de Frouville

Vice President of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances

30 August 2021

Enforced disappearances is a crime which is generally committed by state agents abducting people, arresting people and then sending them into secret detention, admitting them to torture, summary executions, and refusing to reveal the fate or the whereabouts of the persons to the families, to the relatives and the society.

So to confront this reality, which is now worldwide, the Convention not only recognized enforced disappearance as a crime, it also makes an obligation for States to prosecute perpetrators.

It also recognizes the rights of victims, namely the right to the truth, the right to justice, the right to reparations. So it’s a fundamental tool today to prevent forced disappearances from happening, and hopefully in the future to eliminate this practice.

It’s of major importance that Asia moves forward on this issue. A number of countries have experienced the practice of enforced disappearances or are currently experiences experiencing the practice of enforced disappearances in this region.

Despite this, Asia is late in the process of universal ratification. Only very few states in the region have ratified the Convention currently, compared to other regions which have made more important effort towards that universal ratification. So I would say it’s really important now that Asia is joining the movement.

We really need more initiatives in the region to sensitize the decision makers, the governments, the parliamentarians, to the need to ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.

It would be great if local NGOs, but also National Human Rights Institutions with the help of the local presence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, could organize more seminars and workshops around the issue of enforced disappearances in general, but most specifically also on the Convention.

And of course all the UN experts on the issue, especially from the Committee, but also our colleagues from the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances and the members of our Secretariat.

We all stand ready to help and assist and tirelessly explain the content of the Convention and why it’s so important to ratify.