30 August 2009 marks the 26th International Day of the Disappeared. Every year, Amnesty International, along with associations of families of the disappeared and other non-governmental organizations, remembers the disappeared and demands justice for victims of enforced disappearances.
Governments use enforced disappearance as a tool of repression to silence dissent and eliminate political opposition, as well as to persecute ethnic, religious and political groups. To combat this grave human rights violation on 20 December 2006 the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
The Convention obliges states to hold any person involved in an enforced disappearance criminally responsible. It recognizes the families' rights to know the truth about the fate of a disappeared person and to obtain reparations. It also requires states to institute stringent safeguards for people deprived of their liberty; to search for the disappeared person and, if they have died, to locate, respect and return the remains.
The Convention will enter into force when it has been ratified by 20 countries. Nigeria became the 13th country to ratify on 27 July 2009. Seven more ratifications are needed. Amnesty International is campaigning for the Convention to enter into force as soon as possible and believes this can be achieved by the end of 2009.
Currently Amnesty International is focusing its ratification campaign on the following ten countries: Burundi, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Serbia, and Timor Leste. Join our campaign! Write to these governments, asking that they ratify the Convention.
Image caption: Artwork by Aishah, aged 13, daughter of disappeared Masood Janjua, taken during a bus trip to Peshawar, Pakistan, 30 July 2005. Copyright: Amnesty International
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