30 August – International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

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The UN General Assembly, by its resolution 65/209 of 21 December 2010, expressed serious concern about the increase in the number of enforced or involuntary disappearances worldwide, including arrests, detentions and abductions, and the growing number of reports of harassment, ill-treatment and blackmailing to witnesses of disappearances or relatives of disappeared persons. By the same resolution, the Assembly declared August 30 the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

Enforced disappearances have become a global problem in all continents. Currently, they are often observed during internal conflicts, especially as a means of political suppression of opponents.

The military conflict in Ukraine that has been going on for five years is accompanied by the most severe crisis in the field of human rights. Enforced disappearances in the territory of the state are of a widespread and systematic character. The Security Service of Ukraine detains civilians, most often, on the basis of a trumped-up suspicion of support or sympathy for the Republics. Having become unprotected and unseen for society, the victims are virtually deprived of all the rights and are fully in power of their kidnappers.

Amnesty International is the organization which addresses the problem of enforced disappearances. Every year on this day, it calls on the governments to take all possible steps to eradicate this practice. One of the tools to combat the problem was the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Disappearances, adopted in 2006. It obliges states to impose the status of a criminal offence on violent disappearances, to protect witnesses of such cases, and to search for missing persons or their remains.

In July 2016, the report of the international human rights organization Amnesty International “You do not exist.” Human rights defenders pay special attention to the so-called “secret prisons” of Ukrainian special services, as well as the unlawful detention of people by law enforcement agencies of Ukraine.

On June 15, 2018, the Deputy Chair of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances Tae-Ung Baik visited the Donetsk People’s Republic and discussed with the Ombudsman the current status in the search for persons who went missing as a result of the armed conflict, the exchange of prisoners and transfer of convicts.

Enforced disappearance of people is a gross violation of human rights. There are no norms and circumstances that would justify the situation when people are arbitrarily arrested, beaten and ill-treated, and stay without any contact with the outside world. Disappearance brings suffering not only to the victim, who is often tortured and who lives in constant fear for his/her life but also to their family members who have no information about the fate of their loved ones. Even if a person is, finally, released, then physical and psychological traumas, which have remained as consequences of cruel treatment and torture, will never heal.

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