Press Release

On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the IACHR Calls on States to Comply with their International Obligations

August 30, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - On the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) remembers the victims whose fate remains unknown and calls on States in the region to take all necessary measures—in accordance with their international obligations—to prevent, investigate, and punish the practice of this serious human rights violation in their territory, and to implement comprehensive reparation for the victims.

The IACHR has stressed the continuous or permanent nature of acts which constitute enforced disappearance until the victim’s whereabouts are established or their bodily remains are found, and the corresponding duty to investigate those events and, if necessary, punish anyone responsible for them. The IACHR has noted that, whenever there is good reason to suspect an enforced disappearance, a serious, impartial, and effective ex officio investigation needs to be immediately launched to establish the truth. The Commission has also stressed that States must conduct a careful search, through the relevant judicial or administrative routes. This search needs to be systematic and involve the creation of expert units or committees, with the human, technical, and scientific resources required to locate and identify victims of enforced disappearances.

“Enforced disappearances continue to happen in the region under democratic governments,” said Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, President of the IACHR. “At the Commission, we urge States to eradicate this practice, and to take the necessary measures to duly investigate pending cases and to search for persons who remain missing,” said Commissioner Arosemena de Troitiño. “We also call on States to adopt necessary measures to ratify the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons,” she said.

“Families have the right to know the truth about what happened to their loved ones. This is essential to relieve the suffering caused by the uncertainty concerning their whereabouts,” said Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur on Memory, Truth, and Justice. “Today, we also acknowledge families and the people who work tirelessly to enforce memory, truth, and justice,” added IACHR Executive Secretary Paulo Abrão.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 214/19